Wanstead resident Karen Myers is a champion of Redbridge Council’s Pollinator Pathways, a scheme designed to reduce the use of pesticides on our streets and help residents grow wild flowers outside their homes
Have you ever walked down a street and wondered why there were no weeds anywhere, or why the foliage around trees remained wilted and brown? This is because most streets in the UK are sprayed with weed-killing herbicides.
Many of you will know that Redbridge Council promote a scheme for residents to adopt the tree pit outside their own home and, instead of it being sprayed, sow wild flower seeds instead. This is win-win; there are fewer harmful chemicals in the area and bees and other pollinators have an extra source of food. This marvellous initiative has led to gloriously colourful pockets of nature. However, it still means the kerbsides in your street are being routinely sprayed with glyphosate, a herbicide which many other places are now phasing out.
Last year, I happened upon a new Redbridge scheme: Pollinator Pathways. Residents take over their whole street and spraying stops. Five local streets are taking part: Addison Road, Chaucer Road, Spratt Hall Road, Woodcote Road and half of Overton Drive.
To join the Pollinator Pathways scheme, a certain number of residents from the road must commit to helping out and a leader in each road is needed to fill out the initial forms. This year, the five Wanstead leaders formed a WhatsApp group and found that each road organised themselves differently. In our road, we had one meeting all together and then decided to take care of different parts of the road in smaller groups. We formed a separate gardening WhatsApp group and regularly kept in touch, helping each other out with seeds, plants and advice. Other roads had working parties through the year and met in someone’s front garden at the end of the hour for a cup of tea and a chat.
According to Buglife, in the last 20 years there has been a catastrophic 60% decline in flying insects and the UK is infamously known as one of the most nature-depleted places in the world. Our beleaguered pollinators are poisoned by herbicides, face loss of habitat and cannot find enough nectar and pollen to survive – so schemes like this are vital.
Other towns and boroughs across the country have drastically reduced spraying by using a more nature-friendly approach. In Redbridge, the Pollinator Pathways scheme is the first step towards reducing pesticide use and helping to reverse decades of nature decline.
It feels good to walk down a road knowing it has not been sprayed and that neighbours have come together to make the area a better place for everyone.
Tree pit adoption and Pollinator Pathways applications are open until 31 December. For more information, visit wnstd.com/pp
For more information on Pesticide-Free Redbridge visit wnstd.com/pfr