Author Archives: Bella

The Wandle’s a Winner!

After

We’re delighted to announce that we are a category winner in the 2016 UK River Prize. The Carshalton arm of the Wandle has won the ‘Urban Project’ category and is one of four category winners who will now go forward as finalists for the overall river prize.

The overall UK River Prize will be announced at an awards dinner at the River Restoration Centre’s Annual Conference in Blackpool on the 26th April.

You can read the River Restoration Centre’s press release here (UK_River_Prize_Finalists) to see the other category winners and finalists who we’re up against. Each finalist will make a short video about their project which will be shown at the awards dinner.

Keep your fingers crossed!!

Recruiting: Part-time River Education Officer

LWLPS LOGO

We are recruiting a brand new position at the Wandle Trust!

This part-time Education Officer role will deliver our Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme Education project. The role will involve developing education packs about the River Wandle and a ‘Wandle in the Classroom’ programme to enable school children to help rear river plants and animals and release them into the Wandle.

Further details are available here: EducationOfficer_JobDescriptionFeb2015.

To apply, please send email a CV (2 pages max) and a covering letter (2 pages max) focusing on your relevant experience, knowledge and skills, before 5pm on Monday 6th April.

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It’s a Midge Issue!

Last Friday morning Luke and I went to Ravensbury Park to meet MP Siobhain McDonagh as well as Area and Environment Managers from the Environment Agency, London Borough of Merton Councillors and over 20 local residents. Local residents have been suffering from clouds of midges emerging from the river through the Park and have understandably had enough! So we all met to discuss what could be done about it.

Chironomus plumosus MHNT

An adult midge (“Chironomus plumosus MHNT” by Didier Descouens – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chironomus_plumosus_MHNT.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Chironomus_plumosus_MHNT.jpg)

The midges are chironomids which spend the first part of their lives in the river itself. They then pupate and emerge as flying adults, surviving for only a few days to mate and lay eggs at the river’s surface. The problem is that there are so many midges emerging in Ravensbury Park that local residents can’t even open their windows, and it makes a walk through the Park quite unpleasant (and a cycle though the park pretty much impossible without swallowing a few along the way!)

These clouds of midges are an indication that the river ecosystem is out of kilter: the conditions are such that the midge population is not being kept in check as it naturally should, so it has boomed in the last 5 years (notably since the pollution incident in 2007 according to local residents).

Midges are ubiquitous creatures which inhabit most freshwater environments, but they particularly like still or slow moving water. During our meeting we observed that there are likely to be a number of contributory factors to the booming midge population, which all combine in a ‘perfect storm’ in Ravensbury Park (and possibly in Morden Hall Park too):

  • The slow sluggish nature of the water caused by weirs which impound the river, slowing flow and causing silt to drop out. Midge larvae thrive in these silty low-oxygen environments where other river life finds it hard to survive.
  • Ironically the Park’s many beautiful trees are likely to add to the problem, because the midges eat leaves which fall in and line the riverbed, breaking down to create more of these silty low-oxygen conditions. This is a reason why tree management around rivers is important (as well as allowing more light to reach the riverbed so that a diversity of plants can survive).
  • Another factor is likely to be a decline of predators such as other aquatic invertebrates (including damselflies which local residents said used to be much more abundant in the park) as well as fish, birds and bats. It’s possible that the many pollution incidents that the Wandle has suffered has contributed to the decline in fish, and the fish also tend to get washed downstream in high flows and can’t return upstream due to the number of weirs.
  • Finally, the water quality of the Wandle is very nutrient rich, as much of the flow is sustained from the effluent from Beddington Sewage Treatment Works. Beddington is operating within its licensed limits but the water quality downstream changes and this may contribute towards conditions that favour midge larvae in the Ravensbury Park area.

So what can we do about it? Well, the problem needs to be tackled holistically, addressing all of the issues – and we all have a role to play in this.

Currently, Luke is working in Ravensbury Park to help improve flow and habitat in the Back Channel. This involves thinning out some trees to increase light reaching the river, creating a low-flow channel to enhance the river’s resilience to drought conditions, enhancing the diversity of river habitats and increasing the velocity and turbulence of the water (making it more like a river and less like a pond).  Later this year, the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme is also planning to start similar work on the main channel through the Park.

All these improvements will help to reduce the conditions in which the aquatic midge larvae thrive in and restore the habitat for animals which would predate on them.

By continuing such river restoration – re-naturalising the Wandle and making it resilient to pressures like climate change – we will chip away at the problem, reducing the number of midges and hopefully encouraging many more attractive species to return to the Park.

Recruiting: Invasive Non-Native Species Officer

The Wandle Trust is recruiting a part-time Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Officer to help coordinate and deliver work to tackle aquatic INNS on the River Wandle.

Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed can shade out natural flora

INNS can have a negative impact on rivers by both directly out-competing native species and indirectly altering habitats, for example by causing the excessive ingress of silt which can smother the natural gravel riverbed.

The post is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a programme which involves the local community in the restoration and enhancement of the River Wandle landscape.

The Project Officer will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the River Wandle Invasive Non-Native Species Action Plan and Work Programme.  The role will involve both coordinating the work of a range of partners and contributing to the delivery of the INNS Work Programme.

This post is now closed.

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Welcome to Polly, Luke and Olly! (and sorry to Norfolk’s rivers!)

In the past few weeks we have had three new members of staff join the Wandle Trust & SERT team.

Polly Bryant joins us from Norfolk County Council and will be running our volunteer events; Luke Mitchell, who has been undertaking research on the River Stiffkey in Norfolk, will be working on river restoration projects – you may well bump into him in Ravensbury Park; and Olly van Biervliet, previously at Norfolk Rivers Trust, will be picking up our water quality projects from Claire.

(Whilst we’re very sorry to see Erica move on – at least she’s moving to Norfolk!)

Within half an hour of arriving at the Trust, Polly, Luke and Olly were already getting stuck into our river restoration work at Hackbridge!

Luke, Polly and Olly get stuck in!

Luke, Polly and Olly get stuck in!

Two New Project Officer Positions with the Wandle Trust

These positions are now closed. 

The Trust is advertising two new Project Officer roles:

  • The first will deliver water quality enhancements including our volunteer pollution monitoring project
  • The second will support volunteers and empower them to help deliver river restoration works (this post is part-funded and supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle programme).

Further details can be found in the links below and the deadline for applications is 5 pm on 14th July and 11 am on 15th July, respectively. Interviews will take place in the week commencing 21st July.

ProjectOfficerWaterQuality_JobDescription

ProjectOfficerVolunteerSupport_JobDescription

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New book: The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing

Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing

We are very excited to announce the recent publication of a new book by our Chairman of Trustees, Theo Pike, entitled ‘The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing – and how to tackle other Invasive Non-Native Species’.

This ground-breaking 96-page handbook includes more than 40 invasive non-native species (INNS) such as Himalayan balsam, giant hogweed, Chinese mitten crabs, signal crayfish and mink, with practical advice on how individuals and community groups like ours can take action against them or stop them spreading further.

Even reporting a sighting of oak processionary moths or Asian longhorn beetles can make a big difference to protecting our natural biodiversity, and there is also a section on biosecurity measures like Defra’s Check-Clean-Dry advice.

Best of all, since this book was partly inspired by the work of the Wandle Trust and our wonderful volunteers, you may even recognise yourself in one of the photos.

Copies of the ‘Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing’ are available direct from the publishers, Merlin Unwin Books, or you can buy a signed copy from Theo at one of our community balsam bashing and river cleanup events!

New Position at the Wandle Trust/South East Rivers Trust!

We are delighted to advertise a new role of Senior Projects, Programmes and Operations Manager. We are looking for an enthusiastic and knowledgeable individual with considerable experience of management and fundraising to join our growing team and help shape the future of the Trust.

Details of the role and person specification can be found below. The deadline for application is 12 pm on Monday 19th May.  To apply, please email jobs@southeastriverstrust.org with a CV (maximum 2 pages) and a letter (maximum 2 pages) detailing your relevant experience and what you may bring to the role and to the Trust. Interviews will be held Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd May.

Applications for this position have now closed.

Catchment Planning Ketso!

Ketso means ‘Action’ in Lesotho and is the name of an engaging toolkit which you can use to capture people’s ideas and views. We used the Ketso kits to develop part of the Vision and Catchment Plan on the River Wandle and wanted to share what we had learned with others.

KetsoWorkshop

All over the country, similar visions and plans for river improvement are now being developed by local catchment partnerships as part of the ‘Catchment Based Approach’.

So we organised a workshop called ‘Ketso for Catchment Planning’, led by Ketso’s inventor Dr Joanne Tippet, to help others use this toolkit, and give hints and tips on how to get the best out of it for planning improvements in river catchments.

Chloe and Glen from Kent and Surrey Wildlife Trusts caefullly fold up a Ketso mat without losing its leaves

Chloe and Glen from Kent and Surrey Wildlife Trusts carefully fold up a Ketso mat without losing its leaves

The day was a great success and much fun was had by all!

Thanks to the national Catchment Partnership Fund for supporting this event.

Keep vigilant on the Wandle over the next few days…

The Environment Agency have been in touch to say that, with the inclement weather, they are contacting their partners to ask us all to keep vigilant for any incidents (e.g. pollution or blocked culverts) and flooding, and to keep an eye out for our neighbours.  River levels may rise quickly so do take care.

Further information on flooding and flood alerts can be found here. Please report any incidents via the freephone number 0800 80 70 60 and any specific flood related issues via the EA’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188.