Gunnersbury Triangle is a special place. Back in 1981, developers proposed to turn the former railway triangle into an area of warehouses, destroying the attractive forested habitats that had developed naturally by “secondary succession” from the abandoned railway gardens.
That proposal provoked an energetic campaign in 1982 by the newly-formed Chiswick Wildlife Group, which became the local Chiswick group of London Wildlife Trust. Together with celebrities like David Bellamy, naturalists and local people banded together to save the triangle. They succeeded in forcing the planning application to a Public Inquiry, which took place in July 1983. The Inquiry ruled that the Gunnersbury Triangle site should be saved for nature. It was the first time ever in the United Kingdom that a Public Inquiry had favoured urban nature over commercial development, and it set a vital precedent.
Since 1985, local volunteers and the London Wildlife Trust have carefully managed the Triangle for nature. The Triangle became a Local Nature Reserve in 1987. With locally scarce Acid Grassland and butterflies, coppiced willows, untouched woodland, interesting ponds where children go pond-dipping, an exciting array of fungi and rare ferns, and a long list of visiting bird species, it is West London’s special place for nature.
Things we love about Gunnersbury Triangle…
Every day, people visit the Triangle for their own reasons, all different – to walk, to run, to be in nature,
to take natural history photographs, to go pond dipping, to have a moment of peace and quiet, to pick blackberries,
to take a break from the noisy traffic, to feel the earth and the air and the sky, to visit with a primary school class,
to refresh their minds. Here is a small selection of the dozens of comments people have made.
- I love walking in this nature reserve, where there are regular guided nature walks, and want to ensure it is protected from development that may spoil this unique pleasure for city dwellers, for whom green spaces are so important and increasingly under threat. – Denise
- This is a wonderful, peaceful oasis in the centre of an urban, residential environment. – Anna
- This space is precious and an important part of the local wildlife. – Catherine
- There are fewer and fewer natural areas in London and they are extremely important as havens of biodiversity as well as for peace and space for local residents. – Sarah
- I use it as an educational resource. – Karen
- I have lived here over 20 years in which time the views and sky have shrunk, enclosed by buildings. The triangle is so important as a rural space. The flora and fauna need to be protected. – Ann
- Parent of two teenagers who like to wander there and pick blackberries. And listen to the bees going to the hives and just look around. – Una
- I love it when the warblers first arrive in spring. – Clare
- I love all the unusual insects on the reserve. – Helen
- I love the feeling of seclusion and walking into wilderness. – Ruth
- I love meeting the other volunteers and people who come to enjoy the reserve. – Nicola
- I love working quietly in nature. – Ian
- I love the wildness and quiet in the city center. – Frances
- …….. – You (tell us what you love about the Triangle!)
Find out more…
- Flickr: Photos of Gunnersbury Triangle, its people and activities
- Wikipedia: Gunnersbury Triangle — the amazing history of how the Triangle was saved from development thirty years ago
- London Wildlife Trust: Gunnersbury Triangle reserve page
- Rural London: North Side. Gunnersbury Triangle “under threat of being swamped by mega housing developments”
Concern for bats
Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats) regulations 1994 states that it is an offence to cause disturbance to bats, and all planning authorities must consider the possibility that their development may conflict with these regulations. We are concerned that resident bats at Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve, along with other wildlife, may be negatively affected by Blackstone’s proposed development at Colonial Drive.
There is evidence to suggest that light pollution can have an adverse effect on bats and their ability to find food. Native British bats eat insects, and hunt for food nocturnally. Studies have shown that the feeding activity of some bats becomes reduced when high intensity street lighting is present, and they do not appear to adjust to extreme light levels over time. Specifically, bright lighting caused disruption to the bats’ flight routes, affecting their ability to hunt. Artificial lighting can also increase chances of predation, as many birds hunt bats, and illuminating a roost can cause bats to abandon the roost.
Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind – although they use their ears more than their eyes for hunting, they do rely on vision for certain feeding behaviour. Bat vision works best in dim light, so can be disrupted by bright lighting. Light sensitivity varies between bat species, but even those which are relatively light tolerant can still be affected by intense lighting. A study by the National Trust which looked at the effect of open-air concerts on bat activity found that it was lighting, not noise, which caused most disturbance.