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Volunteers helping clear tonnes of invasive plant from the River Lee

Volunteer events clear tonnes of invasive killer plant at Lee Valley Marina, Springfield

Release date: 

2 July 2024

Lee Valley Marina, Springfield, in Walthamstow has struggled for many years with the impact of floating pennywort. The large mats often make moving boats impossible in the summer months and it costs thousands of pounds each year to manage.

Thanks to a joint effort between a team of volunteers from Leaside Trust, Whoosh Canoes, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority staff, boat owners at the marina and led by Pip Rowlandson from Paddle UK, 12 tonnes of the invasive plant was cleared from the water in just one day!

Floating Pennywort is an invasive non-native plant which grows rapidly – up to 20cms in just one day! A native of the Americas, it escaped from garden ponds in the 1980’s and is now spread widely across the region’s waterways, forming dense mats that deprive our waterways of oxygen harm the native wildlife, prevent activities such as angling and impede navigation. Since 2014 it has been banned from sale but the problem in the wild still exists.

Officers from Paddle UK and the Angling Trust are leading a partnership of organisations including Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Environment Agency, Canal and River Trust, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, water companies and local canoeing groups to co-ordinate its removal from the River Lea. They are using a methodology developed by Whoosh Canoes from Bishops Stortford who have led the way in its removal in the River Stort, working in canoes to remove large mats of the plant, returning repeatedly to forensically remove fragments to prevent regrowth. The River Stort is now free of floating pennywort and attention has turned to the River Lea.

Pip Rowlandson an Environmental Project Officer with Paddle UK said ‘It was a fantastic effort from everyone involved and whilst it was hard work everyone had a great day. There is more work needed and we are already planning the next event!’

Tracey Bean, Operations Officer at Lee Valley Marina, Springfield, said: “Floating pennywort is a massive issue here and on the River Lea. We really appreciate the support of our neighbours at Leaside Trust and the other volunteers at this event and look forward to welcoming them back for further clearance.”

The project took place during Invasive Species Week which is an annual national event to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive species. Next Thursday (4 July) volunteers will return to the site for a second day of floating pennywort clearance.


For more information, hi-res imagery or to request interviews, please contact: Alison Moore, Senior Corporate Communications Officer

M:07909 000316 E:

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