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Giving back with the 'Friends of Ham Lands'

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

In October the team here at WR-AP got their hands dirty volunteering for the Friends of Ham Lands (HUG), working hard to help maintain our local nature reserve.

Ham Lands lies adjacent to the river Thames, a mere 15 minute walk from our studio in Teddington, and is home to a diverse mix of habitats ranging from woodlands to wetlands. This variety has led to the creation of a haven for all sorts of animal and plant life that are rare to come across in London. The 72 hectare reserve came about pretty much by accident when the old quarry pits of the Ham River Grit Company were filled in post WWII with soil and bomb debris from all over London and the south east. The new top soil came carrying with it seeds local to the areas the soil originated from. Fast forward 60 years and Ham Lands is a microcosm of wild plants native to England and is designated as Metropolitan Open Land’ as well as being a Site of 'Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation’ and having been declared a Local Nature Reserve by Richmond Borough Council.

Source: Ham United Group - HUG

As Londoners we know how few and far between greenspaces can be within this city, so keeping this area managed and accessible to the community is incredibly important. Not only to London itself but to the whole of Britain, due to the 97% decrease in meadow land across the UK since the 1930s. That's why it's more necessary than ever to keep these spaces properly maintained. It's not as simple as it sounds though as nature can't just be left to take it's course as the hardier species, such as brambles, would take over the open spaces and decimate the flowers and more delicate flora which would have a devastating knock on effect on the fauna, fungi and lichens that depend on them. The folk at Friends of Ham Lands liaise with Richmond's ecology officer as well as local experts to ensure they are managing the lands in the best way for the ecosystem.

Before and after

But what did we get up to? We spent our time clearing a huge wild Clematis that was suffocating a tree, battled with brambles that were invading the grassland glade, removed trip hazards and cleared debris left by contractors after brush clearance work. (You can get a better idea of the team's enthusiasm here.) And why did we do it? Here at WR-AP we're committed to creating social value within our work and aim to create buildings that both enhance their environment and do their bit to save it. Since becoming members of the Heart of the City we've been on a conscious drive to ensure that the business can be a force for good wherever possible and so it seemed a no brainer that we should extend this work outside of the practice and do what we can to help our community by volunteering when we can.

All the resources on how to volunteer or donate to the Friends of Ham Lands can be found here .

This blog has been written by Amber, our design and communications lead. Amber is a 2020 Communication Design graduate from the Glasgow School of Art and founder of Bloom & Body, a small ceramics business focusing on the human form. You can read more about her here.


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