A boost for wildlife on the Regent’s Canal

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The Lower Regents Coalition has got together with The Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston to install over 75 metres of floating islands the Regent’s Canal with support from the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, Moo Canoes, the Ragged School Museum and ecology solutions provider Biomatrix Water.

The project has been made possible with a grant from the Mayor of London’s Greener City Fund. The two groups have teamed up with the aim of creating a chain of diverse aquatic vegetation that will eventually connect up our two patches, in Tower Hamlets and Hackney respectively, helping to make the Regents Canal a true‘green corridor’.

Wetland plants ready to plantVolunteers took to the water in Mile End on 22 May to assemble the floating structures, plant them up and pull them into place along the water’s edge on the opposite side from the towpath. These floating islands contain native aquatic plants including Marsh Marigold, Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife, Ragged-Robin, Yellow Flag Iris and various sedges. As the plants grow, they will improve the aesthetics of the canal and create new habitat for urban wildlife such as dragonflies, herons, kingfishers, moorhens and fish below the surface. A total of 23 metres of rafts were installed in Mile End, just by the Gunmakers Arms footbridge at the end of Solebay Road. A further 32 metres will be installed in Haggerston over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

Molly Gadenz from the Lower Regents Coalition said: “It was a really good day – a long one but we had a brilliant team Vegetated floating rafts ready to launchof volunteers who worked really hard and let us know that they felt good to be part of this project. We are really happy with the results. We know from experience that the canals across London are much loved and well used. Many people from all backgrounds love being by water and the canals provide a peaceful place where we can take a break from the hectic pace of city life. Along the Tower Hamlets and Hackney sections of the Regent’s, we see such a wide range of people using the canal and its surrounding green spaces for everything from recreation to relaxation, from commuting to calling it home. We are really excited about our new green corridor enhancements – we hope they will be great additions and will create focal points for enjoying and appreciating all the amazing benefits that the canal provides.”

Volunteers launching planted raftsTim Mulligan, Canal & River Trust ecologist, says: “The Regent’s Canal is arguably the most popular canal in the country. It’s a unique green space that winds through the heart of the city and is home to a wonderful array of wildlife. We welcome any chance to support this ecosystem and are extremely grateful to the Wildlife Gardeners and Lower Regents Coalition for pioneering this scheme: their work is a great example of what can be done as more communities get involved with improving their local waterways. The canal is such a great place, perfect for slowing down, relaxing and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. Being by the water makes people feel healthier and happier and I’d encourage anyone to pay it a visit.”

The Lower Regents Coalition has ‘adopted’ a two mile long section of the canal from Limehouse Basin to Mile End Road in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and work to provide regular improvements to the water and towpath. They run regular volunteer events that are free and open to the public, providing an opportunity for the diverse range of people who live in or frequent the area to be a part of protecting and enhancing this important open space. The group’s activities include land and water-based litter picks, graffiti removal and creating wildflower meadows. For more information about the Lower Regents Coalition visit their Facebook page.

Photos by Lower Regents Coalition and Moo Canoes – click to enlarge

Rafts before startingFitting coir mats to raft basePlants lined out on raftFloating vegetated raftVolunteers launching vegetated rafts

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