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Water for Wildlife: Discovering life in London's waterways and boosting freshwater habitats

Ruddy darter (credit Iain Leach)Ruddy darter (credit Iain Leach)

Aiming to reconnect Londoners with their local waterways and wetlands

credit Jane Clarke

London’s freshwater habitats have always been an important part of people’s lives but unfortunately many have been modified, damaged and even built on to accommodate a growing population, increased demand for space, and the development of London.

Luckily, people attitudes towards rivers and wetlands are slowly changing and London Wildlife Trust is now seeking to better understand these important habitats and the species they support, in order to manage and restore them.  

Water for Wildlife was launched in 2016 and has since been collecting data and making habitat improvements across London. It will continue to run until December 2019, supported through funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Thames Water.


What can you do to help?

We are looking for volunteers to help us survey rivers, streams, canals, reservoirs and ponds across London, looking for the creatures that call them home.

Blue tailed damselfly (credit Iain Leach)

Surveying focuses on Odonata: the order of insects more commonly known as dragonflies and damselflies. These dazzling creatures are one of the most attractive groups of freshwater insects; as well as looking pretty they provide a useful indicator of habitat changes – quickly recolonising restored waterways and relocating in response to climate change.

We are working with British Dragonfly Society to deliver surveys, using their methodology. Surveys take place between May and September and training sessions for new volunteers are held in June and July.

Linear Park

If you can’t commit to taking part in regular surveys, you can still help by submitting records to our public citizen science survey, Dragonfly Detectives, hosted by the wildlife data service Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL). Anyone can visit a freshwater site, look for dragonflies and damselflies, and contribute by reporting their sightings. Results from Dragonfly Detectives and our surveys allow us to map species across London, and lead to the development of an atlas of Odonata for London.

In addition, we are looking for practical conservation volunteers to help us improve freshwater habitats for a range of species across the city. Habitat improvements will take place at a selection of London Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves and partner sites, and may involve pond and river restoration, management of bankside vegetation, marginal planting, and removal of non-native species.

You can now download our adult dragonfly recording form, plus a Odonata recording reference guide.


Get in touch

For more information on volunteering with Water for Wildlife please visit

To get involved email

You can also follow the Water for Wildlife Twitter account: @WaterForWild


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FilenameFile size
adult_dragonfly_recording_form.pdf185.22 KB
odonata_recording_reference_guide.pdf362.88 KB