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The Importance of Urban Wetlands

The Importance of Urban Wetlands

Human beings are now officially an ‘urban species’, with more than 50% of world’s population now living in urban areas. However this trend towards urbanisation for our species has had catastrophic impacts for many others as they, and the habitats they depend on, have been squeezed out of the urban landscape. These impacts are particularly severely felt by wetlands. Most urban centres developed precisely because of wetlands, which provided easy access to water, rich agricultural land, and navigable access. However the extent of urban development means many have been drained and built on entirely and remaining fragments are severely degraded. As well as being disastrous for wetland wildlife this has also had severe impacts on our society, with the ecosystem services that these wetlands provided having been severely compromised. WWT has always played a role in trying to redress that balance. London Wetland Centre was created right in the heart of one of the world’s biggest urban centres and was a major step forward in bringing wetlands back into the urban environment. So far, we have logged up to 2,399 wildlife species at WWT London Wetland Centre. With a tally of 57 species per hectare of reserve, it makes WWT London Wetland Centre one of the best wildlife watched nature reserves across the whole country. Records from WWT staff, volunteers, visiting wildlife experts, but just as importantly from members of the visiting public have contributed to this amazing “urban wildlife watch” undertaken on site – perhaps unexpectedly making it an urban mecca of collaborative citizen science at its best. WWT are now taking this concept even further, with our ‘Working Wetlands’ approach which seeks to use the multiple benefits that these wetlands can provide as a way to bring them back into people’s homes, businesses, neighbourhoods and daily lives.

Share your Splashes for your chance to win!

Share your Splashes for your chance to win!

Share your photos on our Facebook page for your chance to win a Frugi Puddle Buster Coat

Join us to Celebrate World Wetlands Day!

Join us to Celebrate World Wetlands Day!

Join us on Sunday 2nd February to celebrate World Wetlands Day! Established in 1997 to raise awareness of the benefits of wetlands to people and the planet, World Wetlands Day celebrates what WWT is all about - protecting wetlands for the benefit of all. London Wetland Centre opened in 2000 bringing to life WWT’s founder Sir Peter’s Scott’s vision of an urban wetland that brings nature to the people. A passionate advocate for nature and a firm believer that we will not protect what we have not experienced, Sir Peter Scott recognised the need to connect city dwellers with wetland wildlife. Wetlands have a variety of positive impacts for people and wildlife. Recent studies have demonstrated that wetlands are good for wellbeing, reducing levels of stress and anxiety. Green spaces have long been considered desirable in urban environments but studies have shown that blue spaces, natural spaces containing water, have a more powerful effect on wellbeing than green spaces alone. Read more here. As well as providing restorative health benefits for people, wetlands are enormously biodiverse habitats supporting a huge range of species. Over 40% of the world’s species are dependent on freshwater wetlands yet they cover just 1% of the world’s surface. At London Wetland Centre we support nationally significant overwintering populations of duck species including gadwall and shoveler. A diverse range of species also breed on site from slow worms to reed warblers. Wetlands are also vital in the fight against climate change, storing more carbon than all the world’s forests combined, as well as being crucial for flood prevention, storm protection and water filtration. Read more about wetlands and climate change here. What’s on that day? On World Wetlands Day, alongside our usual daily activities, we will be running a range of talks showcasing WWT’s conservation work as well as some of the species we have here on site. A special ’70 years of Wetland Conservation’ talk will run at 12pm and 3pm highlighting conservation work WWT has undertaken around the world. There will also be spotlight talks on our Red-breasted Geese, Magpie Geese and Eider ducks. All of these species depend on wetlands for their survival and can be found in our living collection. For families, our learning team will be running a ‘Build a Mini Wetland Village’ workshop (3pm), a fun and creative way to teach children how wetlands help to protect against flooding. Kids can also learn about wetlands and water sustainability through interactive games in our indoor ‘Discovery Centre’ play area. Join us to celebrate wetlands and discover the many benefits of this wonderful habitat for yourself. Full details of the day here.

Wetlands Unravelled to Launch March 2020

Wetlands Unravelled to Launch March 2020

London Wetland Centre is delighted to announce Wetlands Unravelled, a year-long contemporary arts programme woven throughout the lakes, ponds and reed beds of our award-winning nature reserve. Curated by Unravelled, who commission and produce site-specific projects inspired by history and place, the programme unfolds over three seasons with new sculptural, installation, video and textile works by ten artists exploring the paradoxes of conservation within the wetlands environment. Commissions by artists Tania Kovats, Anne Deeming, Jonathan Wright, Gavin Osborn and Alec Stevens launch Wetlands Unravelled on 28 March 2020. These are followed in summer with Lizzie Cannon’s new commission, and a curated season of performances, talks and events. In the autumn, artists Claire Barber, Sharon McElroy, Eloise Moody and Caitlin Heffernan launch new works concluding the programme. All the artists commissioned for Wetlands Unravelled respond to the topography, wildlife, history and politics of the wetland environment, during the twentieth anniversary year of London Wetland Centre. Rob Campbell, Head of Experience, Engagement and Learning at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), said, Wetlands Unravelled is the latest and most ambitious in a series of contemporary art commissions on WWT sites. We’re very excited to showcase, through this programme, new work from artists responding to the unique wetland habitat we manage at London Wetland Centre. We want Wetlands Unravelled to stimulate thinking and discussion around the vital role wetlands play in the environment and the fight against global climate change. Following an overnight stay in a wildlife observation hide, and other research at London Wetlands Centre, Tania Kovats will produce Wetlands, a new artwork in the form of a limited edition newspaper. Illustrated with trickling streams of imagery, text and migratory bird flyways set against the overhead Heathrow flight path, the work draws on the environmental and socio-political concerns of wetland environments everywhere. Floating in the ponds of the wetlands, Anne Deeming’s sculptural clusters amalgamate the domestic with the industrial in familiar yet unexpected hybrid forms. Gradually changing in colour and patina in response to the weather, the distinctive objects begin to mimic seasonal transformations in the plumage of migratory birds, and the textures of local plant life. Jonathan Wright’s gold-leafed floating sculptural work relates to Barn Elms Manor House, which once stood on the site now occupied by London Wetland Centre, and was a meeting place for the politically influential Kit Kat Club in the eighteenth century. Exposing a multilayered history, which now leaves no trace, Wright’s installation considers the contemporary wetland site that has returned to nature through artificial means, and reflects on its future significance. Gavin Osborn’s series of sound works immersed in the wetland landscape investigate the repurposing of the site from Victorian reservoir to managed space for wetland ‘wild’ things. Onsite and off-site field recordings and interviews are interwoven with specially created texts and sound design, connecting to broader geographies and concerns such as the climate crisis. Interested in the absence of the watery markers of climate change in the wetlands environment, Alec Stevens’ series of sculptural installations protrude from the water at varying heights, alluding to the water level rises predicted to engulf UK and global communities. Wetlands Unravelled is the latest contemporary art project commissioned by the WWT, following The Bell (2019) by Bouke Groen, and The Berkeley Bat House (2009), conceived by artist Jeremy Deller, and designed by Jorgen Tandberg and Yo Murata. The commissions form part of the modern day legacy of renowned ornithologist and artist, Sir Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Wetlands Unravelled is the second major commission by Unravelled who collaborate with contemporary artists and makers to create works exploring histories, stories and a sense of place. From 2012 to 2015 they curated Unravelling the National Trust, a programme of artists’ commissions for Nymans House and Garden, The Vyne and Uppark, National Trust properties in West Sussex and Hampshire. Wetlands Unravelled is made possible by funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Area of the Arts Society, and supported by Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Header Image: That sinking feeling, Alec Stevens, 2019

Winter Wildlife at London Wetland Centre

Winter Wildlife at London Wetland Centre

Winter is one of the best seasons to see birds at the centre, as huge numbers of birds migrate to London Wetland Centre.

Congratulations to Anna, Winner of The Parents' Directory Poetry Competition

Congratulations to Anna, Winner of The Parents' Directory Poetry Competition

Congratulations to Anna, who has win the Poetry Competition!

Become a Wildlife Presenter with the BBC Autumnwatch Experience

Become a Wildlife Presenter with the BBC Autumnwatch Experience

Have you ever wanted to be a wildlife presenter? Do you want to share your love of wildlife with the world? Now's the time to find out, at the BBC Autumnwatch Experience at WWT London Wetland Centre!​

Managing our Reserve: summer

Managing our Reserve: summer

Find out what the reserve team is up to this month to keep the site in top condition.

Learn why wetlands are amazing in our revamped Discovery Centre

Learn why wetlands are amazing in our revamped Discovery Centre

There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained in our new Discovery Centre. The fun and informative interactive play zone is the perfect place to spend a rainy (or sunny!) day.

It’s lights, camera, action at the brand new Springwatch Experience at WWT London Wetland Centre this May

It’s lights, camera, action at the brand new Springwatch Experience at WWT London Wetland Centre this May

This May sees the launch of a unique wildlife experience at London Wetland Centre, where visitors can try their hand at becoming a Springwatch Wildlife presenter.

Have a splashing time February half term at the London Puddle Jumping Championships

Have a splashing time February half term at the London Puddle Jumping Championships

Children of all ages are encouraged to grab their wellies to see if they can complete our Puddle Jumping obstacle course!

Festive Christmas Fun

Festive Christmas Fun

Join us for some festive Christmas fun at London Wetland Centre this December. We have lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy! Children will be thrilled to hop aboard for a festive husky sleigh ride through the beautiful wetland scenery or take a ride on an adorable donkey. It's a wonderful experience and makes for a great photo too! The Elves are a little behind schedule this year and they need help to ensure there are enough presents in time for Christmas! Drop into their workshop throughout the day to help them prepare and to make your own Christmas gifts. To warm up, drop into the Kingfisher Kitchen and warm up with a hot drink and a range of homemade, festive food or browse our shop for Christmas gifts, decorations and more! Find out more about our cafe and shop. In addition to our Christmas events there's a whole host of drop-in activities. Join us to make bird feeders and learn about birds in winter. Discover which animals hibernate on site and make a home for them using natual materials. Tick and twitch your way into 2019 with a birdwatching walk. Or enjoy a story around the fire as we transport you to storyland. Find out more when you visit this winter.

Go on a Wild Walk at WWT London Wetland Centre

Go on a Wild Walk at WWT London Wetland Centre

Get closer to wetlands and wildlife at WWT London Wetland Centre with the opening of the new Wild Walk! The Wild Walk has been designed to transform the way we look at the natural world by offering a view from the different perspective. The experience takes you on a journey through areas of the reserve otherwise not accessible to visitors and provides an enhanced physical and sensory experience, incorporating some challenging elements along the way. Meander along sweet tracks winding their way through reeds, balance over stepping logs and see if you can cross the wobbly rope bridge without getting your feet wet. Matthew Thorley, Visitor Experience Manager at WWT London Wetland Centre said, “We always try to encourage our visitors to get closer to nature and what a better way to do just that than by getting them off the main paths. “The best thing is that the walk can be done again and again as there will be something new to discover with each season.”

New Men’s Shed at WWT London Wetland Centre

New Men’s Shed at WWT London Wetland Centre

A man’s safe space is often his shed: So WWT London Wetland Centre, in partnership with the Barnes Community Association, will soon be hosting a “Men’s Shed” for the benefit of men across Barnes. The aim is to tackle the isolation men can feel at stages in their life, including the loss of a partner, when children move out, or retiring or losing a job. The Men’s Shed will help men get together to create woodwork and metalwork for the Wetland Centre and the local community, like building benches and bird houses. The idea is that the activities will help them to bond and provide support for each other. Matthew Thorley, Visitor Experience Manager at London Wetland Centre, said, “The wetland centre already provides a peaceful haven to visit. The Men’s Shed will give men in Barnes greater opportunity to connect with nature, to help maintain the wetland centre for the local community, and to gain mutual friends and support within the Barnes community”. The inspiration for the shed in Barnes came after a visit to Australia by Steven Mindel, Chairman of the Barnes Community Association (BCA) and one to New Zealand by Anthony Miller, a Barnes Resident and WWT volunteer, where the Mens’s Shed programme originated and is well established.  Working with two local charities FiSH and the Castlenau Community Centre, they applied for and were awarded £10,000 funding from a London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames Village Planning Fund grant, as well as the donation of a site at WWT London Wetland Centre. Steven Mindel said, “I am delighted to be working with WWT on this important project to bring a Men’s Shed to Barnes.The issues of mental health are so important and reducing loneliness and isolation, are steps toward combating these concerns”.

Make a Splash at Dusty’s Puddle Jumping Championships

Make a Splash at Dusty’s Puddle Jumping Championships

February Half Term 2018 (Saturday 10 – Sunday 18 February)                           This February half term,  children of all ages are being encouraged to grab their wellies, get outside and join in our puddle jumping championships. WWT’s new children’s character, Dusty Duck, is joining in the fun again and helping kids create the biggest, craziest splash possible.  Dusty was exclusively designed by the world-famous Aardman Animation studio to help celebrate WWT’s 70th anniversary by getting children closer to nature. Children will compete against each other in a variety of challenges to see who can complete the London Wetland Centre puddle jumping obstacle course. Everyone that finishes the course receives a ‘splashtastic’ sticker to acknowledge their puddle jumping skills. The official competition will take place daily from 11.30am - 12.30pm and 2.30pm - 3.30pm daily. It’s all a lot of fun and we know that children who love puddles often grow up to be adults that love the outdoors. So through these championships we’re gently nurturing a love that may help protect wetlands and the wildlife that depend on them for years to come. Puddle Jumping is free with paid admission to the Centre and free to WWT members. Plus, the whole family can join in our fascinating owl pellet dissection workshops (limited numbers). Owls are amazing animals that swallow their prey whole and as not all of the animal can be digested; part of it is regurgitated in the form of a pellet. Can you find out what an owl eats by identifying the bones within the pellet? Perhaps you’ll even be able to reconstruct the skeleton found inside it. Help scientists by investigating a pellet and recording your findings. One pellet per family, £5 per pellet. Ages 5+. In addition, families can also: get close to amazing wildlife have fun at indoor and outdoor adventure play areas watch nature’s winter wildlife from cosy hides eat delicious home cooked food in our cafe and browse our fantastic gift shop