Crayford Marshes Vision supported by six wildlife charities released today

Friday 1st December 2023

A vision for a nature haven, where rare wildlife including red-listed Skylark & Corn Bunting are found, has been unveiled by the Friends of Crayford Marshes community group in a bid to protect this much-loved wildlife oasis from development threats.

The vision for Crayford Marshes was created following a survey carried out within the local community asking people how they would like to see the marshes used in the future. The information received as a result showcases the potential of this regionally important site and highlights the area as a real community asset.

94% of people said Crayford Marshes was either ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ for their physical or mental well-being. 

96% of people said they would like to see dedicated areas focusing on the conservation of breeding grounds for rare and red-listed species. 

The Friends of Crayford Marshes engaged with local people as well as five wildlife charities who all lend their support to this vision; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Buglife, London Wildlife Trust, CPRE London the Countryside Charity, Thames 21 and Wildfowl & Wetland Trust. Now the Friends of Crayford Marshes want to action the vision to make it happen!

Donna Zimmer, Friends of Crayford Marshes: ‘The vision is a great tool which clearly shows the value of the whole site to people and for wildlife. I’m looking forward to reaching out and working with all stakeholders to make the vision happen. Crayford Marshes is a regionally important site for nature conservation and should be protected for the rare wildlife that lives and breeds here plus for the health and enjoyment for Bexley residents for generations to come.’

Jamie Robins, Programmes Manager from Buglife: Species like the Shrill Carder Bee and Brown-banded Carder Bee depend on places like Crayford Marshes to survive- vital areas of habitat in the crowded Greater London area. Making this Vision happen will help to secure the future for a host of scarce invertebrates and other wildlife

Joseph Beale, Conservation Officer at RSPB: ‘Corn Bunting and Skylark are both once-familiar British songbirds whose populations have sadly suffered huge losses over the last few decades. Both species are ground-nesting birds of farmland and open country, and both have made their home within the wildlife-rich landscape of Crayford Marshes. The Skylark’s famous song, delivered by the bird in flight with seemingly boundless energy, is an uplifting melody that has inspired poetry and literature through the ages, including Shakespeare. The stout Corn Bunting’s distinctive song is supposed to sound like a jangling bunch of keys and is delivered from a song post or wires. Sadly, these charismatic songbirds have been lost from vast areas of our countryside to the extent that both are now Red-listed as UK Birds of Conservation Concern. Corn Buntings, for example, have declined nationally by over 80% since the 1960s, and in the London area have gone from over 100 pairs in the 1970s to fewer than 20 pairs today. Changes in farming practices which have resulted in a loss of insects and seeds throughout the year and a reduced window of opportunity for nesting, are thought to be responsible for much of these alarming declines, as well as habitat loss in some places. The fact that after such dramatic declines Corn Buntings and Skylarks still breed in the London area at Crayford Marshes is something we should celebrate and is one of many very good reasons why protecting Crayford’s precious wildlife habitats is so important.’

Alice Roberts, Head of Green Space Campaigns of CPRE London said: ‘It’s unbelievable that a developer can think this is an appropriate site for building houses. It’s protected Green Belt, critical for flood management and an important nature reserve. We want to see the site renamed Crayford Marshes Park. We want new features and facilities like toilets and a café, a bird hide and habitat enhancement. And the local council should proudly promote it as the amazing visitor attraction it is. We want this space to be one of ‘Ten New Parks for London’ – a big campaign we’re running at CPRE London to demonstrate how spaces which don’t have a clear identity are coming under threat, when they could be incredible parks for Londoners to enjoy.‘

Dominica Piatek: I came across Crayford Marshes by chance while working on a university research project, I was walking on the Thames Path and discovered this unique landscape. After reaching out to Friends of Crayford Marshes I realised how endangered this landscape is. I wanted to contribute my time to work on a vision that celebrates the rich heritage and wildlife, while highlighting the importance of the marshes as a space that needs to be protected.’