Come on an Outfall Safari and help us raise awareness about river pollution!

It is five years since we ran our first Outfall Safari along the Ravensbourne river catchment and it’s time to run another health check on our rivers. This is an opportunity for volunteers from Keston to Deptford, from Eltham to Sydenham, to join us and help identify pollution hotspots and raise public awareness around drainage misconnections that can harm our rivers.

The waterways of the Ravensbourne, Quaggy and Pool join the Thames at Deptford and, like all London’s rivers, they can be polluted by chemicals found in detergents, building material, paint etc and by sewage due to misconnected plumbing.  Pipes that lead into surface water drains, rather than into sewers, bring these pollutants into our rivers and impact the species that live in them.

While Thames Water and the Environment Agency monitor the river catchment and respond to pollution incidents, it is very hard to create a detailed map of all the troublesome outfalls that have, so far, remained under the radar. An Outfall Safari is the answer. 

Designed to be undertaken by local volunteers, an Outfall Safari requires no expertise beyond simple data collection, which is covered by our bespoke training in March, and keenness to take walks alongside our rivers. 

This is a short-term commitment: it will be run over a period of around one month (April 2022) and relies on lots of small teams of volunteers each doing as much or as little as they want.  One team member will record the observations of the group using a simple mobile App, and the uploaded data collected by all the teams will create a detailed picture of the current state of the catchment.

Outfall Safari training will be on Wednesday, March 30th from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Althletics Hub meeting room in Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre, London SE7 5LW. Our trainer is Phoebe Shaw Stewart of the Zoological Society of London. Poster attached – training is of course free.

An Outfall Safari gathers valuable information.  Data from the App is mapped and passed on the Environment Agency and Thames Water.  And any severe pollution revealed can be investigated immediately by these agencies.  It is a proven method of checking on London’s rivers, already tested on the rivers Crane, Wandle, Hogsmill, Dollis Brook and many more. It relies fully on Citizen Scientists! Which could be you. Please contact us you’d like to take part. 

Lewisham has a new biodiversity action plan!

Local councillors have voted to endorse the plan, the ‘Natural Renaissance’ for Lewisham, which will aim to do the following….

Supporting the installation of more green roofs in Lewisham, which are roofs where vegetation has been planted to boost biodiversity.

Working with landlords and other landowners to help them transform urban areas to provide habitats for local wildlife.

Reconnecting people with rivers and highlighting how safe access to rivers and an improved river corridor can provide a range of health, safety and environmental benefits.

Delivering at least 60 nature conservation volunteer sessions and 30 guided walks per year

Delivering 500 educational events for 8,000 local children every year.

Working with community art groups to enhance urban locations, such as tunnels, with biodiversity inspired art murals.

Providing practical advice to local residents on how they can enhance their private gardens and local areas to boost biodiversity.

To read more, follow this link:

https://lewisham.gov.uk/articles/news/creating-a-greener-lewisham-new-biodiversity-action-plan-endorsed

The Tweed Invasives Project

For those of you who have spent time with me and other volunteer groups in activities such as The 3 Rivers Clean Up clearing himalayan balsam know what great fun it is. You may wonder, however if it is all worthwhile? Of course we know it is because in Lewisham we have seen a huge reduction in the amount of HB in the years that we have been running the 3 Rivers Clean Up and other similar sessions.

The Tweed Invasives Project has been tackling invasive plant species in and around the River Tweed and its tributaries since 2002, when Giant Hogweed was identified as one of the biggest threats to the River.  Since then, they have added Japanese knotweed and Himalayan Balsam to their list of invasives. With all this fantastic experience, they have produced a ‘best practice’ manual, The Tweed Invasives Project: 18 Years of Catchment-wide Control, which gives a detailed guide to delivering a long-term, catchment-scale invasives control programme.

It is a fantastic document highlighting all the different ways in which you can control these species. For those of you that only want to read about Himalayan balsam, you will find this from p24 onwards.