Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust

Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust (BGNR Trust) is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation established in April, 2016. Registered Charity No.1166648

Our objects:

To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, as a place of ecological and historical interest in particular but not exclusively by educating the public about the site and encouraging its use for recreation and interpretation through the arts.

The Bethnal Green Nature Reserve is a rare and extraordinary place. An old bomb-site that has gone back to nature, it has been nurtured and preserved over time by local people who have seen it not as waste ground, but as an urban haven for biodiversity.

The Bethnal Green Nature Reserve has been a resource for educational groups, for environmentalists and – over the past eight years – the base for the ‘Phytology’ medicinal field, enhancing the biodiversity of the extensive site.

We now want to build a wider network of support for this important piece of London land by forming the ‘Friends of Bethnal Green Nature Reserve’ to nurture, develop, promote and protect this indispensable place.

Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trustees 

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Ingrid Chen (Trustee) is an outdoor education expert with several years experience leading forest schools in the East End. She works at Columbia Rd Primary and has established multiple outdoor education hubs, enabling children and their families to connect and better understand the natural world found within the city.
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Glenda Trew (Trustee) is an urban farming advocate and master composter who has established over 20 community garden projects working alongside the Women’s Environmental Network. She is an experienced teacher, delivering hands-on community focused food growing workshops, specialising in non-traditional UK crops. Glenda is also a world renowned Oware champion, currently ranked 1st in the UK!
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Ken Greenway (Trustee) is Manager of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, turning the once-overgrown burial grounds in Mile End into a popular 21st century community and ecology hub. You’ll often find Ken leading large groups of volunteers, litter picking, delivering Forest School, or running very popular foraging tours & bat walks. He is an accredited funeral celebrant at Humanists UKHorticulture Manager at Grounded Ecotherapy: Recovery for people & places and ‘Come Dine With Me’ winner in his spare time.
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Sajida Malik (Trustee) is an early years teacher, who campions outdoor play for all. Opened Rangers Kindergarten in Bethnal Green in 2018, offering Steiner inspired play and education for all children regardless of their economic background. Sajida has over 30 years experience in the Early Years sectors and is deeply connected to nature. 

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Neil Davidson (Chair) is a Landscape Architect and Partner of J & L Gibbons, Director of Landscape Learn and a research partner of Urban Mind. His expertise includes sub-regional strategic plans, public realm frameworks, heritage landscapes and public parks. He has worked and lectured in Europe and the United States and is a Built Environment Expert for the Design Council CABE.
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Saif Osmani (Trustee) is an artist operating predominantly within architecture. His practice inquires into socio-cultural ruptures resulting from changes in the built environment. Born in London, he is of Sylheti-Bangladeshi origin and has a studio located in East London.

After graduating from Chelsea College of Art & Design Saif worked for 10 years at leading architecture firms. In 2019/20 he received an Aziz Foundation Scholarship to complete his Masters in Architecture & Historic Urban Environments at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. Recently he was artist-in-residence/ visiting fellow at Loughborough University London. Previously he has been a visiting tutor at University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury. He occasionally lectures at Loughborough University’s Media and Creative Industries and for UCL’s planning and geography departments.

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Ellie Doney (Trustee) is a Londoner, artist, arts organiser and materials / making enthusiast. She has led and worked on local cross-disciplinary and site-responsive arts projects since 2005, and co-founded Studio Manifold, a materials-led artist’s group.
Over the last 20 years she has worked in community, workshop, communication and public art roles at Hoxton Hall, Wallspace Gallery, Canary Wharf, Institute of Contemporary Arts and Institute of Making.
She studied materials and making at University of Brighton and ceramics and glass at Royal College of Art, and is currently working towards a PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art. Her PhD is based on how cooking and eating together can help us understand human-material ecologies. Ellie was artist in residence at Phytology/BGNR in 2016/17 and feels great affection for the place and its ongoing animal and material inhabitants.
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Amina Haque (Treasurer) is has worked as a finance officer for a number of charities including Forum for the Future, British Lung Foundation and Bow Arts Trust. Amina has recently pursued her own horticultural interests, growing and selling an extensive range of cacti & succulents. 
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The Team

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Shumaisa Khan (Community Gardener, Researcher) interests have taken her through the realms of social sciences, international development, and grassroots movements, all underpinned by her interest in advancing ecological and social justice. In recent years, she has also been exploring traditional healing systems, plant medicine, and regenerative food systems as vehicles to repair both cultural and ecological distress. She feels arts and humanities are crucial, particularly at this juncture of extreme polarisation, in facilitating different ways of expression, and creating spaces for dialogue and reflection.
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Dimuthu Meehitiya is our resident Ecologist and Environmental Educator. Dimuthu has worked in conservation for over 25 years, specialising in multiple urban biodiversity enhancement projects, outdoor learning and ecological surveying.

Educated in Environmental Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, he has subsequently worked for organisations such as the London Wetland Centre, the London Wildlife Trust, Bristol Science Centre and the brilliant Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

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Rasheeqa Ahmad (Medical Herbalist) is a medical herbalist based in Walthamstow, East London.

She trained at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine in Glasgow and at Middlesex University (Archway Herbal Clinic) in London, gaining a 1st-class Honours degree and the Ellis Snitcher Memorial Prize for Integrative Medicine in 2012.

Rasheeqa leads on the Mobile Apothecary project alongside a growing network of talented volunteers spanning the areas of arts, herbalism, and horticulture/growing. Since April 2019, she has been bringing people together to collectively learn about medicinal plants and create herbal medicine at Phytology, for distribution to fellow community members facing barriers to health, food, and shelter. 

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Olly Edmonds (Ecologist) is an experienced Field Ecologist with over six years’ professional consultancy experience in undertaking protected species surveys and ecological appraisals for a wide range of development project. Bats are Olly’s ecological specialism and alongside bat roost character and activity surveys, he has experience in endoscope work, tree surveys and internal and external building inspections. Olly also has extensive experience in relation to other taxa and European Protected Species (e.g. badger, birds, bats, great crested newt, hazel dormouse, otter, reptiles and water vole), alongside Phase 1 habitat surveys, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals and BREEAM/CSH assessments. He has also developed skills in data analysis, report writing, and designing, implementing and overseeing mitigation strategies as an Ecological Clerk of Works.
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.Naseem Fatima Khan OBE {11 August 1939 – 8 June 2017} (Co-Founder)  was a British journalist, activist, cultural historian and educator who was influential in effecting policy change about cultural diversity. She wrote a report entitled The Arts Britain Ignores in 1976, which was the first major study highlighting the integral part played in UK culture by black and Asian artists, and also that year she founded the Minority Arts Advisory Service (MAAS). As a journalist she was one of the first theatre reviewers for Time Out magazine, and later wrote regularly for publications including the New Statesman, The Guardian and The Independent.

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Margaret Cox (Co-Founder) is a local instigator of one of the largest networks of community allotments in East London, transforming her estate into a food growing hub. She is also the Chair of the Teesdale & Hollybush Tenants and Residents Association, which have taken stewardship of the 1-acre parcel of land, known as Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, since the late 1990s. Cox has lived in the neighbourhood since she was 9, and has been visiting and caring for the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve for the past 50+ years. She referred to herself as the Nature Reserve’s “Mum”.
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Michael Smythe (Co-Founder) is an artist and creative director of Nomad Projects, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Nomad Projects critically engages with issues surrounding environmental and social justice within the urban landscape. Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Hochschule Der Künste, Berlin.
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Email – info@nomad.org.uk if you would like to become a Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Friend.

By appointment during the pandemic info@nomad.org.uk