The 3 Rivers Clean-up, a nine day focused volunteer effort to remove Himalayan Balsam from the Ravensbourne river system, has been a great success. But how did it come about?
It all started at the Creekside Educational Trust (CET) party last Christmas. QWAG’s Matthew Blumler, buoyed by the successful Himalayan Balsam pull organised by QWAG that June, suggested that a concerted attack on this alien invader across the whole Ravensbourne catchment would be more effective than piecemeal clean-ups. Thames21 and CET agreed, and the rest is history.
Well not quite. The work involved to organise such an event, especially for the first time, was truly daunting. A steering committee, chaired by Matthew, was formed. Partners who could bring their skills and resources were sought out. Potential clean-up sites were visited, the logistics of providing equipment for volunteers and disposing of the waste were tackled, permissions, publicity and a thousand and one other issues were addressed. Slowly but surely, a schedule of corporate, school and public events was drawn up.
The weather over the first few days of the clean-up was excellent and good turnouts were reported by the event leaders. Even before the extra publicity and flurry of last minute volnteers generated as a result of the Mayor of London’s mishap, the 3 Rivers Clean-up was well on the way to a succesful conclusion. The late postponement of the second QWAG clean-up (by 2 weeks) owing to concern over water levels after heavy storms overnight was the only session lost – and even then some work was completed.
So was the 3 Rivers Clean-up a one-off event or will it become a regular feature? It’s too early to say, but at the party held to thank all the volnteers who took part, the enthusiasm for next year was evident – the main question being whispered was why stop at 3? Why, indeed.
The 3 Rivers Clean-up is a partnership between Creekside Educational Trust, Environment Agency, Glendale Managed Services, London Borough of Lewisham, London Wildlife Trust, Nature’s Gym, Quaggy Waterways Action Group, Schools in the Parks (Field Studies Council) and Thames 21.