The Trust for Urban Ecology was founded in 1976 when veteran ecologist Max Nicholson and a group of like-minded conservationists set up Britain’s first urban ecology park. The William Curtis Ecological Park was created on the site of a derelict lorry park near London’s Tower Bridge.
Max Nicholson was also instrumental in setting up the World Wildlife Fund and became the 2nd Director General of the Nature Conservancy Council. A visionary for his time he foresaw the need to bring nature conservation into towns where we live and where people can make a difference.
The William Curtis Ecological Park was always intended to be temporary and in 1985 the land was returned to its owners. By this time, the Trust for urban Ecology had already created two new nature parks, which it still runs today as part of TCV. Work on the third, offered to the Trust as a replacement for the William Curtis Ecological Park, was just about to begin.
The three key parks in Southwark – Stave Hill Ecological Park, Lavender Pond and Dulwich Upper Wood – are all designated local nature reserves (LNRs) and have a full time warden. Two are based in the built up area of the former Surrey Docks in London’s Docklands, once the centre of Britain’s timber trade. The third is based a few miles away in Crystal Palace.
In 2002, TRUE took on the management of the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park in the London Borough of Greenwich. Owned by English Partnerships and now by the Land Trust, this wetland ecology park has two full time wardens.
TRUE became a fully integrated part of The Conservation Volunteers in April 2012. The same wardens and staff still work on the key sites as the Urban Ecology section of TCV.
TRUE’s parks continue to play an important part in the world of ecology and conservation
- They provide a new habitat for urban wildlife
- They enable ecologists to discover more about the nature of urban ecology
- They offer city residents, including schoolchildren, the chance to enjoy nature and learn through hands-on experience
- They demonstrate the value of ‘creative conservation’ – an ecological approach to the creation of new landscapes
- They provide examples of best practice and key demonstration sites, which have been acknowledge as far afield as Japan and Korea
As well as running four nature reserves, TCV’s Urban Ecology Manager, former landscape architect Ben Dewhurst, and his team of six staff organise and run the following activities:
- An environmental design, creation and management service
- Volunteer and work placement schemes
- Corporate team-building projects