Our February river cleanup took place in Wandle Park, Merton. This month’s cleanup was a little different from usual; combining litter picking, fly-tipping removal and tackling floating pennywort.
Floating pennywort is an invasive non-native plant species. This means the species was introduced to the area and is causing harm to the naturally occurring life in the river. Pennywort can be easily seen floating on the surface of the river like little kidney-shaped lily pads. It causes a range of problems including changing the availability of oxygen in the water, threatening fish and invertebrates, choking drainage systems and crowding out native water plants. With this in mind, we thought it would be best to get in early and remove the pennywort before spring arrives.
Luckily we had 52 lovely volunteers turn up to lend a hand!
The day began with the welcome talk and health and safety briefing before splitting the group into litter pickers and pennywort removers.
There was some excellent team work going on in the river as pennywort was pulled and removed, then wheeled away.
Most of the litter was likely a result of park users and included bottles, drinks cans, food packaging and footballs.
Around 12:30pm we took a break for lunch. Shout out to the Richmond University Great British Bake Off Group and Per’s wife for all the delicious baked goods; and Rosie and Wally for manning the refreshment tent ensuring everyone warmed up with hot drinks.
After lunch, our volunteers headed back into the river. Many of the litter pickers had sought out a few hotspots of litter which they cleared up. Top finds were a plastic palm tree and several plastic Christmas trees.
Dave had set up a catch net at the start of the day to prevent any drifting pennywort fragments from floating downstream. As a final job before packing up, this was emptied and removed.
All our volunteers should be extremely proud of their effort and work as the river looked much clearer and the flow had increased. On top of removing the pennywort, look at how much litter was also collected – great work!
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the March cleanup!
Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, those who baked and those who supervised the Event Tent, Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Merton Council and the National Lottery Communtiy Fund.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Lynda, Champior, Joanna, Davinay, Tom, Grant, Billy, Jihyun, Phil, Derek, Per, Charles, Chris, James, Steve, Becky, Gareth, Martin, David, Andy, Paul, Nicholas, Robert, Tony, Jess, Chris, James, Simon, William, Nyssa, Pontus, Lauren, Jacob, Nicholas, Jenny, Sue, Anita, Philomenia, Sanner, Hazjq, Hassan, Jane, Rosie, Margaret, Kyle, Wally, Dave, Milan, Aaron, Gideon, Erica and Ed.