In the first of a series of articles providing an update on the Cleaner Greener Wanstead initiative, Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) looks at how local biodiversity is being improved
The Cleaner Greener Wanstead initiative (also known as the Environmental Charter) has been gaining momentum over recent months. The framework involves a number of different strands, including biodiversity, reducing litter and plastic waste, sustainable travel and energy efficiency. Over the next four months, there will be updates on how things are going in each of these four areas.
The first, biodiversity, has seen several moves to improve the situation in Wanstead. The Grow Zone initiative, whereby areas are managed but allowed to run wild, now covers parts of Christchurch Green and George Green, as well as Roding Valley Park (at the end of Elmcroft Avenue). The Grow Zone methodology has also been expanded out across the borough. Those who took part in No Mow May will have seen first-hand the fantastic effect that letting an area run wild does for flower and insect life.
There has also been an increase in the number of people adopting tree pits, with more than 1,200 adopted across the borough – these too increase insect life, with bees particularly prospering. The council has also replaced more than 1,000 trees across Redbridge, 50 of those in Wanstead.
The whole High Street area is looking greener, with more planters, people and businesses adopting tree pits, as well as putting in their own hanging baskets and raised beds. The addition of the mobility hub outside the Co-op also brings more greenery, as well as cycle rings and an electric vehicle charging point.
Community composting has begun, with a new project starting out, based on the Wanstead Place side of Christchurch Green. Hopefully, this will lead to a wider uptake. And the work of Wild Wanstead and the Community Gardeners continues to massively add to the biodiversity right across Wanstead.
So, things are happening in terms of creating a really clean, green culture. There is, though, always more to do. There are plans to make Cambridge Park – between the Green Man and Redbridge roundabouts – into a greener corridor, with more trees, hedging and other initiatives to increase biodiversity and combat pollution and climate change. It would also be good if people could be dissuaded from converting their gardens to concrete – this reduces biodiversity as well as drainage capacity. Better still would be if those who have concrete areas returned all, or part, to the natural state.
To really succeed in improving our biodiversity, there has to be a public and private conversion to a new, more green and clean way of living. In Wanstead, the early signs are encouraging, but there is still much to do.
For more information on the initiative, visit cleanergreenerwanstead.org