Richmond Biodiversity Partnership (RBP)
Tour of the Beverly Brook Restoration Project with Julia Balfour, Friday 4th December 2015.
Representatives from 10 different environmental organisations came on this tour specially organised for the RBP, including Historic Royal Palaces, The Conservation Volunteers, Friends of the River Crane Environment, Friends of Barnes Common, the Environment Trust, Glendale’s Nature’s Gym, Crane Park, Kingston Biodiversity Network, London Wetlands Centre, and Friends of Palewell Common.
Carol Jewasinski, a Project Manager from DEFRA came along as guest of SWLEN, as part of the NCVO ‘Day In The Life‘ scheme, where people who work in the voluntary sector and government departments swap jobs for a day, to learn about how the other sector works.
These RBP tours are an opportunity to look in detail at an environmental project in the borough, and also to share other groups’ work, research, ideas and approaches to biodiversity projects.
The morning tour was led by Julia Balfour, Head of Ecology for Royal Parks, who introduced us to Phase One of the Restoration project, demonstrating how the straight channel of the Beverly Brook running through the east side of Richmond Park, is being restored into a meandering river with burns and varying flows. The restoration project aims to push the river towards meeting its ‘Good Ecological Potential’ target by April 2016, and is a partnership project with funding from The Royal Parks, the Friends of Richmond Park and the Environment Agency.
The project also received funding through the South East Rivers Trust from the Catchment Partnership Action Fund.
Sir David Attenborough is patron of the Beverly Brook project, 14% of which flows through Richmond Park, providing a real opportunity to ‘re-naturalise’ a significant part of the river. Phase One of the project, just along from Roehampton Gate and Cafe has focused on:
- Fixing large timbers in the riverbed to provide diversity of flow, which will clean and replenish gravel banks, providing habitat for fish to spawn and shelter.
- Planting native trees to provide new habitat, shade cover and a self sustaining source of large wooded material.
- Fencing sections of the river from 30 September 2015 to prevent access by deer and dogs, allowing marginal vegetation to establish which will stabilise the banks.
- Changing the gradient of banks to enable growth of marginal plant species.
- Creating backwaters to provide sanctuary for fish during high water flow – this will also increase the flood storage capacity of Richmond Park.
- Introducing gravel to the channel at regular intervals to naturally reduce channel width and produce suitable spawning habitat for fish.
Taking our time walking up beside the restored section, we heard in detail about the amount of work – with the help of mechanical diggers as well as people spending days in waders – pegging in posts, laying coir matting, installing the gates to keep deer and dogs out of the river while the banks establish, laying logs and staking brush bundles to create new bends. Seeing the variation in flow and the newly created eddies and backwaters – places for fish to shelter in times when the river is in spate – was inspiring.
One of the most exciting parts of the project for Julia is near the top end of the restoration, where an island is starting to form in the Beverly Brook. And at the top looking back down the river, the meanders are clearly visible.
Click through for more information about the Beverly Brook Restoration Project.
All photos by Sue Palmer