East Warwick Reservoir

East Warwick Reservoir

Wetland habitats are extremely rare in urban areas – as such, it is of great importance to protect the future of Walthamstow Wetlands, a Ramsar wetland designated site of international importance, for many more generations of wildlife and people to come. As part of the site’s ongoing conservation work, Thames Water are required to deliver habitat improvement works on several of the reservoirs. Following on from consultations with stakeholders such as Natural England and the Environment Agency, work has now begun on the East Warwick Island to provide a vital habitat and food source for more and more birds.

East Warwick Reservoir at Walthamstow Wetlands

East Warwick Reservoir works at Walthamstow Wetlands

Created in the 1990s, the island on East Warwick Reservoir is described as a scrape which means that it is a shallow depression with gently sloping edges, holding water seasonally. The island has not been maintained for over 10 years, meaning it has not yet achieved its full potential for overwintering birds, such as shoveler and gadwall. The much-needed work on the East Warwick Island is now taking place outside of the nesting bird season and before the peak over-wintering period, and will be complete in approximately two weeks.

Habitat improvement works on the island have included cutting back the brambles to open up the ground for more plants and reprofiling the island to provide a permanent water body, along with seasonal wetland scrapes. Once the island’s levels are firmed, a small trench will be dug and a suitable pipe installed along with a simple valve system to allow water to be filled as required, both automatically and manually. The island will be sympathetically profiled to an agreed shape and the woody chippings will be used to create organic rich piles of variable habitat. A sowing and planting regime is being decided with the London Wildlife Trust, along with any additional aggregates that will be of benefit to the wetlands and overwintering birds.

East Warwick Island at Walthamstow Wetlands

East Warwick island works at Walthamstow Wetlands

As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest – one of only 37 in Greater London – Walthamstow Wetlands is recognised as an animal and bird haven in London. It is with the support of the public and partners including Thames Water, the London Borough of Waltham Forest and the London Wildlife Trust, that dedicated conservation work can continue and improve the site for both wildlife and visitors alike.