Wimbledon Common Restoration

Working with the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators, SERT used natural processes to bring the Beverley Brook back to life for both communities and wildlife through Wimbledon Common. The project was funded by Viridor Credits and the Environment Agency.

Did you know? Beverley translates to “Beavers’ Meadow” indicating that beavers were once an important species for the river. This project recreated the type of changes beavers would have made – adding large woody material to the river.

  • metres of toeboarding removed


  • pieces of large woody material


  • metres of the Beverley Brook restored


  • woody berms built


Why was restoration needed?

Over the years, society has changed and altered the Beverley Brook for a variety of different reasons.

Too straight: There is nowhere for fish to hide in a straight river, and in high flows they can be washed downstream. A natural river would have meanders, creating areas of fast and slow-flowing water.

Too wide: A wide channel results in slow-moving water, causing sand and silt to build up on the river bed. This smothers the natural gravels below.

Too dark: Rivers need light to encourage bankside vegetation to grow as well as plants in the river itself; all of which provide shelter and habitat for a variety of species.

Not enough wood: Trees and branches that would have naturally fallen in the river have been routinely removed in the name of flood risk. However, wood in rivers is an important habitat for fish and invertebrates.

The Beverley Brook before restoration © South East Rivers Trust

Freeing the channel

Prior to this project, both sides of the channel were constrained by wooden toeboarding – boards that constrain the channel of the river.

We removed over 2 km of creosote-covered toeboarding through this work, reconnecting the channel to the bank and allowing the river to cut its own natural path.

Toeboarding removed from the Beverley Brook © South East Rivers Trust

Narrowing the channel

The structures pictured are called berms. They are used to trap sediment deposits which will eventually allow plant life to grow in amongst them.

Berms also narrow the channel to a more natural width, increasing flows to clean the sand-smothered gravels.

They also provide fantastic habitat for invertebrates and areas of refuge for fish in flood events.

We built 43 berms from natural materials thanks to this project.

A berm on the Beverley Brook © South East Rivers Trust

Just add wood

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 fish of all ages. It is also an essential food source for invertebrates and a boosted invertebrate population will benefit the whole ecosystem.

Wood was sourced locally from Wimbledon Common. The Brook was very over-shaded with little light reaching the river channel. To let light in and gain wood material, we thinned the tree cover along the banks, encouraging instream and marginal plants to grow and provide habitat for wildlife.

We consulted both Natural England and an independent ecologist to determine which trees could be felled without disrupting wildlife.


Installing a large piece of woody material © South East Rivers Trust

Thanks to our supporters

Wimbledon and Putney Common
Viridor Credits
Merton Council
Environment Agency logo