Richmond Park Restoration

In 2015, the South East Rivers Trust partnered with The Royal Parks to rehabilitate over 600m of the Beverley Brook through Richmond Park and improve the water quality of the river by implementing both engineered and nature-based solutions.

“Projects like this that restore natural habitats are vital to ensure our riverside flora and fauna thrive in the future.” Sir David Attenborough, Project Patron



  • metres of river restored


  • square metres of wetland created


  • trees planted


  • tonnes of concrete removed


The Beverley Brook

Like many urban rivers, the Beverley Brook has been heavily modified in the past leaving a highly uniform river channel lacking in habitat diversity.

The river channel was overwide, straight and deep leaving little habitat variation. The banks were heavily eroded and steep, suffering from intense poaching and grazing from the resident deer and dogs. Finally, its urban catchment posed additional problems such as urban diffuse pollution and flashy flows.

The Beverley Brook before restoration in Richmond Park © South East Rivers Trust

Restoring a natural channel

SERT narrowed the channel with alternating low-lying berms made of natural materials, backfilled with silt from the river.

Not only did these provide marginal wetland habitats for invertebrates, but they also mimicked a meandering river sequence with a greater diversity of flows.

We also naturalised the banks by removing 20 tonnes of concrete, reprofiling to a more gradual and natural slope.

Finally, we ran a series of volunteers events to add 9,000 native plants and 200 trees. Planting a diverse corridor of trees along the river’s banks will help supply more woody material in the future. Trees also slow down erosion of the riverbanks and provide a more complex land habitat for wildlife travelling or living along them.

Creating meanders on the Beverley Brook © South East Rivers Trust

A lot of wood

Large woody material in huge quantities of complex trunks and limbs with roots still attached, were fixed in the channel.

Wood in rivers has many benefits. It increases flow variation, scouring deep pools and creating riffles. Wood cleans gravel on the river bed for invertebrates and spawning fish. Larger pieces provide refuges for juvenile fish. It is also an essential food source for invertebrates and a boosted invertebrate population will benefit the whole ecosystem.

Complex wood ready to be added to the channel © South East Rivers Trust

Oh deer

Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and deer park with 630 Red and Fallow deer roaming freely since 1637.

While it is lovely to see the deer, they have had an impact on the health of the Brook. Grazing by the deer has prevented any marginal vegetation from establishing and left the banks highly eroded.

We installed 600 m of fencing along the restored stretch and four river gates to prevent grazing and reduce bank erosion.

One of four river gates to prevent deer access © John Sutton

Intercepting pollution

Surface water runoff from the A3 and surrounding urban environment flowed through an open ditch network across Richmond Park Golf Course, before entering the Brook.

Road runoff is known to negatively affect aquatic life, bringing with it a toxic cocktail of pollutants.

We created a siltation pond and 800 m2 of wetland along the ditch network to intercept pollution and clean the water entering the Brook.

On another polluting surface water drain, a Downstream Defender was installed. This intercepted the polluted water, removed the contaminated sediment and sent cleaner water to the Brook.

This work was funded by a partnership between the Rivers Trust and The Coca-Cola Foundation to help clean some of Britain’s most polluted rivers, reduce flood risk, and create new wetland habitats in both rural and urban locations across the country, replenishing 1.6 billion litres of water.

The Downstream Defender is an underground vortex chamber that traps  contaminated sediments from surface water drainage systems that often carry pollutants from road runoff.  SERT has been working with Hydro International – the company that manufactures Downstream Defender – on the efficacy of the Richmond Park Downstream Defender.

Results show that this “end of pipe” infrastructure has prevented thousands of kilos of contaminated sediment from entering the Beverley Brook.

Watch a video about the Downstream Defender at Richmond Park

Downstream defender ready for installation © South East Rivers Trust

Did it work?

The impact of our project was surveyed and analysed by Dan Perkins at Roehampton University.

Total invertebrate density was 5-148% higher in restored sections. This is great as invertebrates are a crucial part of the aquatic food web.

Fish biomass increased by 282% with the restoration as did fish richness and the average body mass of three common fish species.

These results provide compelling evidence for the effectiveness of common restoration methods.

Beverley Brook Restoration: View 1, after © South East Rivers Trust

Thanks to our supporters

The Royal Parks
Friends of Richmond Park
The Coca-Cola Foundation
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
Thames Water
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