We’ve just started work on a very exciting project to enhance the section of the Beverley Brook that runs through Wimbledon Common. This project is being carried out in conjunction with Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators and Merton Council and is being funded by the Environment Agency and Viridor Credits (landfill tax).
Approximately 2 km of the Beverley Brook – that’s 14% of its total length – flows through Wimbledon Common. The Common is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Conservation Area. Despite these impressive designations the Beverley Brook is in poor shape: that’s where we come in!
An extensive programme of works will be carried out between January and March 2019 to help restore the natural processes, enabling the river to ‘self- heal’ and become a fully-functioning riverine ecosystem.
Similar work was completed in 2016 along the Beverley Brook in Richmond Park and has resulted in more diverse habitats and a more natural river channel. You can read about this project, 2 years on, by clicking HERE.
Why is restoration needed?
The Beverley Brook, like many of London’s rivers, has been heavily modified in the past leaving behind a highly uniform river channel lacking in habitat diversity. The river channel has been over-widened, and in places deepened, along most of its length with all natural woody material and instream features being routinely removed from the channel for decades. Due to these reasons there is little variation in flow and depth and consequently there is little habitat diversity for fish and aquatic invertebrates.
In addition to this, the banks are very steep and the river is incised – if you stand on the top of the bank the river is quite a long way down. Overshading from the mature woodland, means there many areas where there is little vegetation covering the banks to hold the soil in place and so it washes into the river. You may have seen a sandy bottom on the river bed: this isn’t actually what it’s meant to look like and is a result of the soil washing in and smothering the natural gravels. This is a problem for the river ecosystem as many of the plants and animals that would naturally live in the Beverley Brook need the gravel river bed habitats to survive.
A natural river system has the ability to self-regulate but when it becomes modified, these processes can get out of kilter and we may need to intervene to kick start them again. All of the modifications to the Beverley Brook have left the river with little power, taking away the opportunity for the channel to naturally fix itself with geomorphological processes.
What are we doing?
This ambitious project will help us improve a long stretch of the Beverley Brook for both wildlife and people. To do this we will be:
- Adding Large Woody Material to increase flow variation and provide a greater complexity of habitats for aquatic wildlife.
- Removing toeboarding (wooden boards that run along the base of the bank) to help encourage the natural adjustment of the channel, and provide better habitat at the river’s edge.
- Removing some trees along the bank. This will let in more light to encourage vegetation to establish along the banks and reduce soil erosion.
- Re-profiling the incised and steep banks to enhance marginal habitats.
- Narrowing and remeandering the channel to create a diversity of different flow patterns and produce marginal wetland berms.
The WPCC team have already started to undertake some of the tree works required. Once the main work starts, there will be some temporary disruption to visitors as the footpath will need to be closed for safety reasons. Alternative routes will be signposted. We apologise for this disruption but hope you can bear with us whilst we undertake this very special project to enhance this area.
With special thanks to: