Karen Sutton writes:
On 23rd July I gave members of the Thamesmead Youth Voice (TYV) Group a tour around Crossness Nature Reserve and Crossness Southern Marsh.
TYV is a youth group run by Trust Thamesmead who have a dedicated youth facility known as The Link based on Belvedere Road (from which you would access Crossness Sewage Treatment Works).
This group meets twice a week for 2 hours in the evenings, and each year they undertake a group project. This year, off their own back, they have opted to do an environmentally-themed project and have decided to get behind environmental projects in the area including litter picking, responsible dog ownership campaigns, creating and installing bird boxes and bug hotels and so on.
They are planning and delivering an event in August, but were keen to see more of the local environment and surroundings beforehand. As such, they came for a tour of Crossness where they learned about the culinary and medicinal uses of many of the plants (and were surprised to learn that Burdock is the plant they find in their Dandelion and Burdock drinks; that Sloe berries can be used to flavour gin, and hops are used in beer etc); they learned to identify a variety of butterflies and about the importance of retaining certain food plants for the larval caterpillars; they saw the very rare Shrill Carder Bee (only 7 UK populations); witnessed leaf cutter bees making use of an artificial nest box; got to meet Strawberry, the Shetland Pony; and, unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) witnessed first-hand the misuse of open spaces such as ours by bikes and quad bikes, where they got to see the damage they cause and the health and safety risks they pose before I ‘encouraged’ them to leave.
The group got a lot from the visit and I’ve been invited to attend their environmental day next month to see how their new-found knowledge is put to good use.
Karen Sutton – Biodiversity Team Manager, Thames Water Crossness Nature Reserve, Crossness Sewage Treatment Works