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Our work here

Short-eared owl hunting in snow shower

Image: Graham Catley

Rainham Marshes protects an ancient, low-lying grazing marsh in the Thames Estuary. Its complex of wet grassland and ditches, together with rank grassland and scrub, supports many breeding and wintering birds.

Wildlife also includes scarce wetland plants and insects, and a key population of the nationally declining water vole. 

The site has a history of neglect, but the RSPB is working to restore important habitats and improve their biodiversity. This will transform a former wasteland into an important natural asset, and help raise public awareness of local conservation issues.

Managing the marsh

Birdlife on the marsh includes breeding waders, such as lapwing, redshank and snipe, as well as important numbers of wintering wildfowl, waders, finches and birds of prey. 

We plan to enhance the habitat for these birds by creating a mosaic of unflooded tussocky grassland, flooded short grassland and semi-permanent pools. This will also benefit important plant species, such as golden dock. 

Meanwhile we will improve the ditch system for the benefit of water voles, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates and breeding birds.

Leaving well alone

We will leave the areas of tall rank grass and scattered scrub unmanaged in order to retain their existing conservation value. Wildlife in these habitats includes small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates, and birds such as wintering short-eared owls and breeding stonechats. 

We will also look after sandy areas for their specialist insect life. 

Silt lagoons

Lagoons on the reserves are currently used for commercial silt dredging. We will work around this in order re-create and maintain a complex of brackish lagoons and reed-swamp for important wildlife, including breeding, wintering and passage waterfowl. 

While some lagoons will remain operational, we will manage others rotationally and keep the rest permanently open.

Access for all

We aim to make the site accessible to everyone, without impinging on the dredging operation or compromising our conservation priorities. We will develop and promote the reserve as a major visitor attraction and centre for environmental education. We aim to encourage interest in local and general conservation, and create a broader understanding of the work of the RSPB.


RSPB Rainham Marshes has developed into a fantastic home for nature, helped by the tremendous support of many individuals, groups and organisations. In addition to RSPB members and supporters, local community members and a tireless team of volunteers, we would particularly like to thank the following organisations for their financial support:

  • AON
  • Barclays
  • Biffa Award through the Landfill Community Fund
  • Big Tree Plant
  • Carter Charitable Trust
  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link
  • City Bridge Trust
  • CLG Parklands
  • Department of Trade and Industry Low Carbon Buildings Programme
  • English Heritage 
  • Environment Agency
  • Essex County Council
  • EU's Interreg IVA Two Seas Cross-border 
  • Cooperation Programme Urban Habitats project
  • Fulham Heating
  • GalaCoral
  • Geoplace
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • HSBC
  • London Borough of Havering
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • London Thames Gateway Development Corporation
  • Natural England through Defra
  • Parklands South Essex
  • Rail Link Countryside Initiative
  • Rose Foundation
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • RWE npower through the Landfill Community Fund
  • Shields Environmental
  • SITA Trust through the Landfill Community Fund
  • South Essex Green Grid
  • Sport England
  • The Essex and Southend Sports Trust
  • The Harrison-Frank Family Foundation
  • Thurrock Council
  • Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation
  • Tilda
  • Veolia North Thames Trust through the Landfill Community Fund
  • WREN/FCC Environment through the Landfill Community Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund new
North Thames Trust
Biffa Award
SITA Trust
Landfill Communities Fund
National Lottery Sport England