1 million visits
1 million visits
Since opening in October 2017, Walthamstow Wetlands has now received over 1 million visits from the local community and further afield in London and the United Kingdom as well as overseas.
Providing a vast and tranquil space with 10 reservoirs, a diversity of rare and resident wildlife and a fascinating industrial history dating back to the 19th century, Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve has proved a popular destination for those wanting to connect with the wild inside the urban.
During these testing times, when the normal way of life for many has been turned upside down due to the covid-19 crisis, Walthamstow Wetlands has provided a space to explore the Great Outdoors, birdwatch, exercise and find solace in unprecedented circumstances. With over 300k people living within a 5km radius, the Wetlands has proved an especially unique resource for local residents.
The site’s popularity has grown enormously since the end of March, and although events and volunteering activities have been paused for the duration of this time, the site has still welcomed approximately 240,000 visits between March – June. During the same period last year, the site welcomed approximately 100,000 visits so this year has seen a 140% rise in visits.
As a Thames Water operational site supplying more than 500 million litres of clean drinking water to 3.5 million people daily, an internationally important nature reserve with a Site of Special Scientific Interest-designation as well as an open space with free public access, Walthamstow Wetlands has understandably faced challenges in balancing the various uses of the site during the covid-19 crisis.
Opening hours have been restricted to allow Thames Water teams to operate safely onsite, and the Engine House and Coppermill Tower have been closed as well as the car park (except for blue badge holders). Through dedicated partnership working, staff from Waltham Forest Council, London Wildlife Trust and Thames Water have worked hard to successfully keep the nature reserve open throughout for all to enjoy.
To ensure the site can remain open, visitors must continue to respect the site rules, including no alcohol, no dogs and no approaching the water – all of which are of importance to ensure the safety of visitors and that clean drinking water is delivered. By respecting the rules and working together, Walthamstow Wetlands can continue to provide a place of respite for both people and wildlife in these extraordinary times.
Cllr Paul Douglas, Cabinet Member for Culture at London Borough of Waltham Forest said: “Walthamstow Wetlands has been an amazing resource for the residents of Waltham Forest during these unprecedented times. Over the past few months, over 240,000 people have been able to visit this nature haven in the local community. Not only has Walthamstow Wetlands provided a space for fresh air and exercise, it has also provided a place of calm where visitors have been able to find peace and quiet and connect with nature. Access to such a wonderful oasis like Walthamstow Wetlands has great benefits for the environment as more and more people learn about the wildlife and nature on their doorstep, as well as for the health and wellbeing of visitors. We hope residents can continue to use and enjoy the space over the summer months to come.”
Kirsty Halford, Access, Recreation and Nature Reserves Manager at Thames Water said: “We’re delighted so many people have been able to safely enjoy the wildlife and green space at Walthamstow Wetlands, particularly during this challenging and difficult time. We provide an essential service and throughout lockdown our engineers have continued working at this inner-city haven to keep our customers in supply. We’re proud to share the wetlands with residents and visitors from across London and we hope even more people will enjoy this site in the future. We care about the communities within which we all live and work, and this is a fantastic example of Thames Water working together with local partners to benefit the communities we serve and the natural environment.”
Leah McNally, Director of Strategic Projects & Engagement at London Wildlife Trust said: "London Wildlife Trust is extremely proud to have welcomed the millionth visit to Walthamstow Wetlands! Over the last three years, Trust staff have welcomed a huge number of families, children, visitors and volunteers to engage with nature on site through our exciting outdoor learning programmes, family activities and a range of volunteering opportunities. We are very proud of our staff and thankful to them for all their hard work in keeping the site open, working in partnership with the wider onsite team so that local residents are able to continue to enjoy Walthamstow Wetlands in these unprecedented times."