How Reedbeds Can Help Save London's Rivers

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 20 months ago
How Reedbeds Can Help Save London's Rivers

Reedbeds can solve all London's problems. OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but they do decrease pollution in London's waterways, encourage wildlife, and add a splash of vibrancy to the area.

To this end, waterways charity Thames21 has identified nine potential sites for new reedbeds along the Lee Navigation. At the moment they're only creating five — giving the public the chance to choose where the reedbeds go through an online vote.

The sites are located in a range of areas along the river: Tottenham, Clapton, Bromley-by-Bow, Homerton and Edmonton.

The Lee Navigation has a pollution problem: it's filled with toxic ammonia. The reedbeds convert this ammonia into nitrate, which is far safer. Thames21 plant reedbeds aren't planted in the actual river bed, instead they float on the water. The plants grow in a coir base, their roots hanging down to the water. This leads to a greater surface area to tackle pollution.

Thames21 has already brought 750m2 of reedbeds to the river, with the aim to have one every 300m along the river.

Tackling pollution is just one boon caused by the addition of reedbeds. They attracts water voles, kingfishers and tiny invertebrates like dragonflies. In fact, reedbeds make the entire river more habitable. This is because they oxygenate the river, allowing fish to flourish.

On an aesthetic level, reedbeds add a smattering of purple, blue and yellow to the riverbanks. A survey showed that over 90% of people thought the addition of reedbeds enhanced an area.

Last Updated 15 February 2017