Project information

Damsels in Distress

Our Water for Wildlife project will improve the quality of London’s waterways, by building a picture of the health of these invaluable corridors with the help of local people, with a particular focus on the historically under-recorded ‘Odonata’, dragonflies and damselflies.

July 2016 - June 2020

Charity information: London Wildlife Trust

London Wildlife Trust logo
  • Need


    Despite London being home to a wide variety of freshwater habitats, comprehensive records on freshwater species in the capital is limited. We know that water-bodies, including reservoirs, canals, rivers and marshland, and the species they support are under increased pressure from pollution, drainage, and urban development. Unfortunately data is increasingly out of date, and much conservation and recording activity, particularly of declining and rare Odonata species, is conducted outside London.


    Water for Wildlife has the potential to greatly benefit both people and wildlife. Engaging the public with citizen science projects will allow at least 100 volunteers from communities local to the project sites gain new skills through high quality training. The results of surveys and monitoring carried out by volunteers will lead to identification of priority species and physical improvements to the health of habitats for biodiversity gain.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Upskilling volunteers through our citizen science training


    » We’ll train at least 100 volunteers to carry out surveying and monitoring on their local freshwater site.
    » We’ll engage the local community at a minimum of 20 freshwater habitats across London over a 4 year period.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the establishment of a professional training programme for local volunteers in aquatic surveying and monitoring as well as practical freshwater habitat management.

    Aim 2

    Freshwater habitats improved for aquatic species as part of an improvement programme


    » We’ll conduct practical conservation where volunteers undertake improvements at 20 sites
    » We’ll use ‘kick sampling’ to monitor Odonata larva and other invertebrates
    » We’ll use fixed-point photographic recording to show before and after improvements to sites.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the project research findings resulting in a series of meaningful and long-lasting enhancements to at least 20 freshwater habitats in London.

    Aim 3

    Implementation of a large scale freshwater habitat monitoring


    » We'll monitor our increased scientific knowledge of species distribution, habitats in an urban setting, and key conservation priorities for species.
    » We'll monitor the wider London community's engagement in and attitudes to urban freshwater habitats and Odonata by tracking responses to web surveys.
    » We'll evaluate how LWT's monitoring and evaluation of the project framework becomes embedded in to ongoing freshwater habitat developments.

    What success will look like

    Success will be helping to establish species trends and conservation priorities, which will influence a broad set of actions across London.

  • Impact


    In the long-term this project will contribute to improved water quality, the creation of strong local partnerships and a wealth of new data on freshwater habitat. This will be demonstrated by the creation of a more accurate atlas of freshwater habitats and species, with research from the project contributing to and influencing a range of planning and policy concerning the UK’s water bodies and the development of framework for the consistent management of freshwater habitats.


    Risks that could influence the success include failure to recruit sufficient volunteers, inconsistent monitoring and surveying of water bodies and unseasonal weather affecting Odonata populations. These risks will be mitigated by our Project Manager and Officers developing community links, regular marketing via our social media platforms, ensuring volunteers are trained to a consistent programme and standard, and staff flexibility to enable surveying during weekends if required.


    Donors to this project will receive email updates on the project, detailing volunteer numbers and project feedback, species survey data, and hectarage of improved habitat. They will also receive an annual report of findings from each year, which will inform the future development of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £682,317

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      Amount Heading Description
      £127,642 Project Manager Salary over 4 years
      £222,193 Project Officers x 3 Salaries over 4 years
      £46,805 Support from partners Conservation Ecologists, British Dragonfly Society, GiGL data collection and mapping costs
      £53,893 Regional Development Managers Salary over 4 years
      £44,825 Overheads and expenses Rent, utilities, central services, volunteer expenses and staff travel
      £36,959 Marketing and materials Communications, events, publicity, materials and surveying equipment
      £150,000 Capital works Capital and construction works

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Thames Water £240,000 Guaranteed
    Esmee Fairbain Foundation £400,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    This will be a pan London project delivered across freshwater sites in the capital over a 4 year period. Woodberry Wetlands will act as the project's base, with the bulk of the volunteer training programme taking place in the new classroom and outdoor learning space. 15 freshwater sites in 14 London boroughs have already been identified for preliminary surveying and monitoring, with further sites expected to be identified during the course of the Water for Wildlife project.


    Freshwater habitats face growing threats from pollution, development and climate change, as London tries to meet the needs of a growing population. Our key beneficiaries are the wildlife and volunteers local to the freshwater sites identified. Many of these areas are in boroughs with high deprivation, and low access to nature. Our volunteer training will create opportunities for local people to engage with and be inspired by their natural environment. Ultimately all Londoners will benefit.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    With 34 years’ experience of conservation work in the capital, we are the leader within The Wildlife Trusts movement on urban nature conservation. We directly manage over 40 nature reserves, and have a long track record of managing water-based projects, engaging London's local communities. Our strong experience and history of working with volunteers and will seamlessly link up our community engagement work with our practical conservation aims for London's freshwater habitats.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Petra Davies

    Water for Wildlife Project Manager - responsible for overseeing delivery of the project work-plan and for managing the Project Officers and partners.

    Rosanna Chambers, Jane Clarke And David Courtneidge

    Water for Wildlife Project Officers - responsible for the promotion of the project, recruitment and management of volunteers and data evaluation.

    British Dragonfly Society (BDS)

    As a provider of expertise on the ecology and identification of Odonata, BDS will input into training and promotion of Odonata to a broader audience.

    Greenspace Information For Greater London (GiGL)

    GiGL is responsible for audit and analysis of collated data, development of citizen science tools and publication of the projects final outcomes.

We are excited to be supporting Water for Wildlife. We very much hope it will inspire and empower residents and visitors to discover, enjoy and play a hands-on role in championing and protecting their local water bodies, now and in the future.

Jenny Dadd, Grants Manager at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation