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Activists angry at mowing of Wanstead Flats wildlife hotspot

PUBLISHED: 11:41 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:41 09 February 2017

A part of Wanstead Flats which has been mowed by the City of London. Acitivists claim it will destory the habitats of hundreds of birds. Picture: Rosemary Stephens

A part of Wanstead Flats which has been mowed by the City of London. Acitivists claim it will destory the habitats of hundreds of birds. Picture: Rosemary Stephens

Rosemary Stephens

Conservation campaigners say the City of London Corporation has "destroyed one of the most important birding sites" in the capital.

The area of Wanstead Flats before it was mown. Picture: Rosemary StephensThe area of Wanstead Flats before it was mown. Picture: Rosemary Stephens

The corporation, which manages Wanstead Flats, has begun mowing down grass and bushland in the park, by Centre Road, Wanstead, allegedly to build more football changing rooms.

A spokesman for the City of London denied any more changing facilities are being built.

He explained the mowing was “part of our annual habitat conservation work here, which we have been undertaking for many years”.

He added: “This year the work is aimed at creating a mixed-age scrub warmed by more sunlight.

“This work will increase the diversity of habitats for the long-term benefit of birds, moths, butterflies and other wildlife – whilst at the same time protecting the extensive wildlife-rich grasslands for which the Flats are renowned.”

But local activists say this has damaged the habitats of hundreds of migrant birds, and could have a negative impact on all sorts of different wildlife.

Rosemary Stephens, 53, of Forest Gate, told the Recorder: “These areas were full of bushes. It was possibly one of the most important birding sites in London.

“The area supports so much wildlife, insects and birds. They use the bushes, trees and plants. The room supports so many insects – some quite rare. Not to mention the bees that nest in the ground.”

Rosemary frequently photographs wildlife on the southernmost part of Epping Forest, and said the developments are “so upsetting”.

“So many habitats have been destroyed,” she continued.

“I am surprised they didn’t consult or ask the local Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group.

“So many people, including avid birders who have been visiting for years, are so upset.”

Barry Chapman, 52, another keen birdwatcher and photographer was dismayed.

He said: “The Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group did a year-long study, which found over 1,500 species of birds, insects, mammals and flora and the Flats are a site of special scientific interest.

“The affected areas of this destruction will no doubt have a severe effect on skylark numbers, which have been dwindling in recent years.”

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