Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has visited a pioneering community garden to discover how the project is encouraging local residents living without access to green, open spaces to discover the diverse wildlife that lives on their doorstep.
Located at the heart of the WaterWorks Nature Reserve, the Wild Place Your Space garden, funded jointly by the RSPB, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Biffaward, is an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to explore a wildlife friendly garden, alive with birds, bees and wild flowers.
At the heart of the project is the aim to reach out to the area’s diverse and under-represented communities, some of whom may have had little experience of green natural habitats and minimal contact with the animals and species that live within them.
Launched in January 2010, Wild Place Your Space hopes to bring over 35,000 local people closer to nature over three years by working directly with schools and local communities, and by transforming this patch of East London into a much loved community garden, just a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Park.
Speaking before the visit, Jean said: “All too often, East London is pictured as a heavily built-up area of docks, industry and concrete, yet we are surrounded by some of London’s largest joined up green spaces and waterways, which host a wealth of wildlife and natural habitats.
“Wild Place Your Space is a great example of how the green spaces on our doorsteps can be used to introduce all of our communities to the numerous health and educational benefits that nature has to offer, and help us to reconnect with the natural world. By coming together to look after natural habitats, we are taking direct action for wildlife and birds as well as improving the environment we live in. I wish the project all the best for the future as it continues to help East London’s diverse communities discover the region’s riches.”
Wild Place Your Space Project Manager, Colin Bowen, said: “We are delighted to welcome Jean to this new community resource. Any age, any background, any circumstance; nature is part of your life. In an ideal world, Wild Place Your Space would not be needed to bring people and nature closer together. We hope the garden will inspire local people to get outside and experience the world!”
A spokesperson from Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said: “Wild Place Your Space has reached out to more than 35,000 people and demonstrates how diverse communities can benefit from nature and wildlife. We already have a strong track record in running open spaces and being involved in nature and conservation work. We are determined to build on the success of this project to ensure that as many people as possible interact and enjoy the environment around them as this can genuinely enhance their lives.”
Notes to Editors
1. Wild Place Your Space is a three-year project created by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) to bring people closer to nature.
2. The project is based in East London and operates across some of the south-east’s most deprived boroughs. Research has found that some of the diverse communities within these wards feel excluded from parks and open spaces and are therefore missing out on the health and mental well-being benefits that visits to green spaces can provide.
3. Wild Place Your Space is helping those living within easy reach of the lower Lee Valley Regional Park to engage with the nature on their doorsteps, in particular audiences that are currently under-represented as users of green spaces. The project aims to reach over 28,000 people.
4. Work focuses on six sites: Myddelton House Gardens in Enfield, the Waterworks Nature Reserve in Waltham Forest, Tottenham Marshes in Haringey, Middlesex Filterbeds in Hackney, Bow Creek Ecology Park in Newham, and East India Dock Basin in Tower Hamlets.