At Thames Estuary Partnership, we continue to work harder than ever during these challenging times and hope that you are keeping well and staying safe!
Whilst COVID-19 has thrown some significant hurdles our way, particularly for project work involving site-based surveys and data collection, we have been getting creative and developing new ways to interface with the public, bring value to our members and help to deliver long-lasting positive change for the estuary.
Clearly some face-to-face events, like our networking evening, have had to be postponed, and it wasn’t possible to organise our live annual boat trip down the Thames for September. But we have been able to adapt quickly and develop a range of online resources to keep our network connected, and that’s been due in no small part to the technical skills of our in-house project officers!
On that note, we have re-created our guided boat tour into a virtual tour, which you can find on our website at The Tidal Thames. Starting at the iconic Tower Bridge and travelling east and away from the bustle and bright lights of the City, this tour takes you to the more quiet, natural parts of the estuary.
This interactive tour of the river allows anyone to ‘take a trip’ and follow via text, photos and links a series of locations along the river. At each ‘stop,’ the viewer can learn more about how wildlife and people interact (now and throughout history) and about critical estuary issues, such as biodiversity, flooding, pollution control, and preservation and regeneration of habitats.
Accompanying this visual tour is a series of podcasts called Talk of the Thames. Our first podcast episode: Wildlife and the Thames, looks at how species migrate along the river and features TEP’s Estuary Edges officer, Eve Sanders, and renowned naturalist and honorary TEP president, Chris Baines. Listen here.
TEP is also continuing its core work on several projects, including Estuary Edges, led by Eve Sanders. This project focuses on replacing hard-edge embankment construction such as brick, concrete and metal tidal walls with softer embankments to create a more natural habitat, work that is key to a thriving river and a resilient estuary. While the project’s live surveys and citizen science projects have been postponed due to COVID-19, we have continued to engage with developers who are interested in creating more sustainable water-side development schemes.
The Greater Thames Fish Migration Roadmap is another significant project at TEP that carries on despite the pandemic and its impacts. Led by Wanda Bodnar, the project has shifted in lockdown to a focus on finalising processes for data analysis and updating the project’s online platform, available here.
A key planned stakeholder engagement meeting went ahead in an online format on the 22nd April, with 14 partners participating, including Thames21, South East Rivers Trust, the Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and the IFM. This was a crucial milestone in the project, which we completed successfully, gathering useful comments and suggestions which have since been included in the Roadmap plans. The Roadmap project will also feature in the September issue of the FISH magazine, created by the IFM.
The Coastal Partnership Network (CPN) full update was featured in TEP’s last blog post here. The Network has been conducting a large data collection and received increased funding, which will help this voluntary network evolved into a professional organisation with a legal status. The CPN National Coordinator, Alice Watts, is now joined by Dr Sam Lew who will be researching opportunities where existing work by the Marine CoLABoration can be scaled through new collaborations.
Following communications support and strategic insight from consultants Mindfully Wired Communications (from late summer 2019 to early spring 2020), we have made significant changes to our communications strategy, work processes and staffing. We’ve promoted Olivia Squires from volunteer intern and she is now assisting our team with essential communications work. Olivia produces the monthly e-newsletter (sign up here), daily social media posts and ensures that TEP’s work is seen by all members and the wider community. Olivia also promotes our partners’ innovative work. We’ve also been supported by Lesia Scholey, a former Financial Times journalist, who took over the editorial and oversight role for our biannual magazine, Talk of the Thames. The latest issue came out 1st July in an online version and can be found here.
We have recently collaborated with Thames21 and the #OneLess campaign to produce two surveys about perceptions of the River Thames in order to facilitate and improve critical campaigns on single use plastics and river pollution. If you have a few spare minutes, please complete them by clicking here.
We are thankful at TEP for our partners, members, and valued friends. Your interest, enthusiasm and support is the lifeblood of our work. Like many of you, we have had funding cuts to our projects and face some tough challenges ahead. Your continued support is critical to TEP’s ability to keep momentum going for the many months to come.
All the best,
Heather Hilburn, CEO