Tag Archives: Media

Announcing the new South East Rivers Trust

Together with the Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency, the Wandle Trust is delighted to announce the formation of the new South East Rivers Trust to help engage communities with conservation and restoration of their local rivers across Kent and south east England.

The rivers trust movement has grown rapidly in recent years, with a vibrant network of individually motivated community-led initiatives operating throughout over 80% of UK river catchments. One of the few areas without widespread rivers trust coverage is south east England. The Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency have been exploring options to enable the formation of a trust that can complement and work alongside other existing local organisations delivering river conservation work including the Kent Countryside Management Partnerships, which is co-ordinated by Kent County Council.

After much consideration, it was agreed that a nearby Trust extending its current area of operation would be the most efficient means of capitalising on existing expertise and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

Rivers trusts apply the ecosystem approach at a catchment scale, and have a strong ethos of community engagement and partnership working with other bodies including farmers, landowners, water companies, other environmental NGO’s and angling groups. In collaboration with the Environment Agency and many local partners, the Wandle Trust has a proven track record of delivering complex river restoration projects across south west London, with a unique blend of scientific expertise and volunteer engagement.

Accordingly, the Wandle Trust has now agreed to extend its area of benefit to cover the Kent and the south eastern area where rivers trusts do not currently operate.

Over time, we’re likely to evolve fully into the South East Rivers Trust, whilst continuing to operate as the Wandle Trust within the Wandle river catchment, and developing river restoration projects as the South East Rivers Trust with all interested partners on the wider stage.

And in the meantime, it’s business as usual on the Wandle, where our recent Catchment Plan consultation has told us how south London’s communities want to see the Wandle improved, and we’re now starting to deliver these improvements with partnership funding from Defra and the Environment Agency. Watch this space for much more news!

To download our full press release about this exciting news, please click here.

FF&FT features Trout in the Classroom

We’re thrilled to let all our friends and supporters know that a 5-page feature on our annual Trout in the Classroom project, and the Wild Trout Trust’s Mayfly in the Classroom initiative, has just appeared in October’s issue of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine.

The article has been written by the Wandle Piscators’ President Peter Lapsley, and features an in-depth interview with Gideon Reeve, Wandle Trust Trustee and Director of our Trout in the Classroom programme.

Copies of the magazine are available from all good newsagents including WH Smith or directly from the Fly Fishing & Fly Tying office… get yours today!

We’re still taking applications for a Project Co-ordinator to run this year’s programme. If this sounds like you, please contact us as soon as possible…

What an extraordinary turnout to see the trout!

For the 11th year in a row the great and the good of the Wandle Valley and beyond came to support our schools’ trout release on the river.  How lucky we were to have a lovely sunny day for the event; and thanks to the hospitality of the National Trust, beautiful surroundings too!

Please click on this link to see a magnificent video of the day made by our volunteer Philip Williams.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Our guest of honour, the Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Jane Cooper, was a terrific sport, wading into the river still wearing her mayoral chains to assist the school children as they released their fry:

(Photo: Roger Stevens)

Her chauffeur Barry was slightly concerned for the mayor’s safety – as well as the honorary bling – but it all turned out well in the end!

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Meanwhile Furzedown Primary School and their teacher were being shadowed by a CBBC film crew and Newsround presenter Joe Tidy.  The crew followed the kids as they carefully carried their buckets of little fish on the journey all the way from the school, via the London Underground and Tooting Broadway, to Morden Hall Park.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

We wonder if this experience will help these trout to become urban-adapted survivors? 

The footage was broadcast nationwide on Easter Monday, sending out an important message across the UK. Click here to watch the programme, and here to see the report in the Wandsworth Guardian.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

The trout teams were fantastically decked out in trout hats and carried banners, and were rewarded for their efforts with chocolaty treats.  

(Photo: Philip Williams)

Our Trout in the Classroom Project Director had once again gone way overboard and fashioned a complete trout head mask.  Known to the children as Trout Man, maybe he had taken this moniker way too literally?

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Once again we must thank our supporters, donators, volunteers and teachers for their valuable contribution…

(Photo: John O’Brien)

… and of course the school pupils, because without all of them this endeavour wouldn’t be possible!

(Photo: John O’Brien)

For a full list of this year’s schools and their supporters, please click here.

Planet Earth podcast: Revitalising the Wandle with science

The Natural Environment Research Council recently visited the Wandle to interview the Wandle Trust’s Director Bella Davies (along with our good friends Angela Gurnell, Dave Webb and Tom Sweeney) for the internationally-respected Planet Earth podcast.

Click here to listen to the Wandle’s panel of experts talking about the success of our recent river restoration works in Carshalton (00:29 – 10:20) before moving upriver to Wandle Park (16:05 – 20:24) to discuss the imminent deculverting of the Wandle’s Croydon arm.

A transcript of the programme is also available: click here if you’d rather read than listen!

Wandle cleanup: January 2012: Wandsworth

The one with an astonishing 14 shopping trolleys!

It was a remarkably mild day on the second Sunday in January, so much so that 43 volunteers decided to shake off the indulgences of the festive season and help clean up another 50m stretch upstream of Lydden Road.

All sorts of detritus emerged from the water which we could have sworn we’d left rubbish-free 11 months before. Road cones, bike frames and shoes were passed to volunteers on the bank who wheeled the rubbish to the dumpsite.

It wasn’t long before the first of 14 shopping trolleys was identified, dug out and hauled from the water.  All were deeply sunk in the river bed, so they’d clearly been there for years, and it took a lot of hard work with crow bars and shovels to release them from the silty depths:

Before we knew it, it was time to take a break and Sally produced a piping hot leek soup and two kinds of cake which everyone enjoyed. Suitably energised, we returned to get to grips with even more shopping trolleys, an oil drum, and the remains of a 1980s hi-fi:

Meanwhile two of our youngest volunteers, Callum and Leo, teamed up and did some litter picking in the undergrowth and had no trouble filling Callum’s own wheelbarrow which he’d brought along especially:

All too soon, Terry and his truck appeared and, having clapped eyes on the huge pile of rubbish,decided we should load up the shopping trolleys first and then put all the rubbish on the top of them.  (Thanks to Sharon and Michael of Wandsworth Council’s Waste Management Team who organised the pick up!)

As we were loading up the rubbish two rather surprised eels wriggled out from underneath the pile and were returned, with some difficulty, to the river by Rob and Roger.

Another of our young volunteers, Isabelle, is working her way towards a Duke of Edinburgh Award, and has chosen to come to cleanups as her volunteering activity. She was both in the river and on the bank helping to add to the rubbish pile and wanted her photograph taken on the rubbish truck before it departed.  So of course we were happy to oblige!

Thanks to all our volunteers:  Abi, Adrian, Andy B, Andy T, Ann, Anne, Barbara, Callum, Charles, Diana, Doug, Erica, Gearoid, Helen, Henry, Isabelle, Jane, Jayne, Jason, Jill, John N, John P, John S, Justin, Kate, Keith, Ken, Leo, Mark, Michael, Phil, Robert M, Robert W,  Roger, Sally, Simon, Stephen, Steve, Sue, Theo, Tim, Toby and Tom.

… who removed:

1 coconut (of course!), 1 pair of loppers, 1 car clamp, 1 metal sheet, 1 oil drum, 1 Hi Fi, 1 office water bottle, 1 large metal screen, 1 plastic Christmas tree, 1 office chair, 1 briefcase, 1 road sign, 1 boiler cover, 1 dustbin, 1 wheelbarrow, 1 garden hose, 2 bike frames, 2 buckets, 2 plastic sheets, 2 pushchairs, 2 garden chairs, 2 wallets, 3 traffic cones, 3 carpets, 4 metal bars, 14 shopping trolleys, 15 tyres and another 2 tonnes of unidentified rubbish.

Eel tally: 2

Update: this story has now been picked up and reported by the South London Guardian newspaper group!

Spawning trout!

Great news to start 2012!  Trout have recently been seen spawning in the restored Carshalton arm of the river near Butter Hill.  The newly notched weir has allowed fish to migrate upstream and utilise the gravels that were introduced as part of our river restoration works in the summer and autumn.

A trout creating a redd (trout egg nest) by flapping its tail to clean away silt, dig a hole in the gravel, and cover the eggs with more dislodged stones:

Trout eggs require good flows with well oxygenated, cool water for successful maturation and hatching.  The combination of the improved access for fish to the new gravels and faster flows from the narrowing and flow deflectors have created ideal habitats for the spawning fish with some fine redds being formed.

As you can see from the photo below, one redd was cut in the faster flow provided at the end of the wooden flow deflector (location of  this deflector and other features were suggested by our good friend Paul Gaskell at the Wild Trout Trust – cheers Paul!) The redd can be seen as a cleaner patch of gravel which contrasts with the siltier gravel around it:

The redd will allow eggs to hatch (in approx. 2 months) and emerging tiny fish (alevins) to shelter in the gaps between the pebbles below the surface of the gravel bed.

It is important that the redds are not disturbed until they hatch in a couple of months.

Many thanks to all who have contributed to the restoration work over the past year: our many enthusiastic volunteers alone have given over 500 hours of hard work to the project. Big thanks too to the Wild Trout Trust for their advice and support throughout. We can already see that the fish are appreciating it!

Update: this exciting news has now been picked up by Total Flyfisher, and Angling Times is also running a Wandle story: click the links to read more.  

Meanwhile, Sutton Guardian’s version implies that the pollution incident in 2007 damaged the river as far upstream as Carshalton: this isn’t correct, since the spill entered the river near Goat Bridge, but it’s certainly true to say that Thames Water’s settlement helped us to fund this work as part of the Living Wandle project, which is vitally important to make the whole Wandle catchment healthier and more resilient for the future.  And, as a result, we certainly hope that the winter of 2011-12 will be the river’s most successful trout spawning season for more than 80 years!

Cover logs, film crews and a new tooth!

17 & 18 September

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and a group of volunteers descended once again on the river at Carshalton to carry on the habitat work started on 3 & 4 September.

As well as more flow defectors a number of cover logs were introduced to provide cover and shelter for fish.  Without shelter and cover, fish are vulnerable to predators and will not take up residence in a stretch.

A cover log with spacers ready for introduction.

The metal bars are driven into the bed to hold it securely in place.  Fish are then able to hide beneath the space beneath.

Securing the cover logs in position gives the volunteers a good physical workout!

Our hard working volunteers satisfied after a good days work!

Sunday was another lovely ‘Indian Summer’ morning and saw a camera crew tracking our work: the Wild Trout Trust in conjunction with Fish On Productions were getting some footage of urban river restoration techniques for a future production.

A ‘dragons tooth’ berm was created by installing logs and brash bundles in a V from the bank edge.  This was infilled with brash bundles and will in time trap silt and become vegetated.  The low level berm not only narrows the river to produce faster local flows and clean gravels but increases marginal vegetation and habitat for invertebrates and other species.

Logs being secured with metal stakes:

Volunteers bringing brash bundles downstream to be used as infill:

The berm is low lying and will be easily overtopped by higher flows which will allow it to trap silt in the brash matrix.

Once the dragons tooth was finished the bundles were securely wired down to make sure they stay in place: 

With a huge thankyou to all our volunteers: Ann, Chris, Gideon, James, Jez, Jo, John, Marilyn, Peter, Richard and Solomon.

This event was supported by the WATER project selected within the scope of the INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the ERDF.

Panorama asks: are we ‘drinking our rivers dry’?

This week’s Panorama investigated how our water consumption can impact on chalk streams such as the Wandle (you can watch it again on iPlayer).  Our friends on the River Kennet clearly demonstrated some of the issues which may soon face the Wandle if we don’t find more sustainable rates of water use.  Investigations into the impact of abstraction rates are currently being undertaken on both headwater arms of the Wandle.

Meeting the Minister for Environment, Richard Benyon, with Charlotte Hitchmough from Action for the River Kennet at the lauch of the WWF-UK Itchen Initiative which promotes smarter water mangement for people and nature © Benjamin Ealovega WWF-UK

By the end of this year the Government will produce their Water White Paper which will set out how they intend to tackle abstraction and other issues which threaten our rivers today. Check out Thames Water’s top ten tips for saving water to see some simple measures you can undertake to help.

The Wandle: one of the UK’s ten most improved rivers!

(Image: Duncan Soar)

We’re delighted to report that the Environment Agency has named the Wandle as one of the UK’s rivers which has shrugged off its industrial past and improved the most in the last twenty years.

From the EA’s press release:

Historically the river has suffered extreme pollution and was officially declared a sewer in the 1960s. But over the last 20 years it has become a vibrant rich habitat due to better environmental regulation, a fish stocking programme and huge local enthusiasm for the river which has resulted in a vast improvement of water quality.

The Wandle is now well known as one of the best urban coarse fisheries in the country and supports a huge variety of wildlife supporting a wide variety of species including chub, barbel and eel. It has also become a very popular location for walkers.  

On a slow news Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday weekend, BBC and ITV film crews descended on the Wandle… and camped at Morden Hall Park for a full twelve hours of rolling coverage, interviewing the National Trust’s Simon Cranmer and Chris Heels, the EA’s Tom Cousins, and our own Director Bella Davies and Trustee Jane Porter.

Print and digital media picked up the story too, and you can read some of those stories and commentaries here:

Many thanks to all our project partners and amazing volunteers who have done so much to help the Wandle recover its health – and here’s to many more improvements in the months and years to come!

Even more Living Wandle!

Installing coir rolls with volunteers at Hackbridge (Duncan Soar)

The Heritage Lottery Fund announced today that the Wandle is one of 11 landscapes that will share in a total of over £18 million to conserve and enhance distinctive landscapes.

This Landscape Partnership Scheme award enables organisations to come together to deliver landscape improvements and change.  The ‘Living Wandle’ bid was submitted by a number of different organisations and groups working in the Wandle Valley to engage the local community and help people connect with and improve the Wandle landscape.

In this successful round of funding, the HLF awarded the Wandle partnership £78,000 towards the development of projects which will have a total value of over £2 million and be implemented throughout the Wandle Valley.

This is the first time that a Landscape Partnership Scheme has been awarded to an urban landscape.  Here’s a taste of what the press have been saying:

Saved, 11 views to savour
The Independent

It is one of Croydon’s best-kept secrets – even to the people who live in the town – that the River Wandle starts there before winding its way, sometimes under concrete, to join the Thames at Wandsworth…

Wandle to be transformed with £2m ‘beauty spot’ award
Evening Standard

A river valley that spans four boroughs in south-west London is to be transformed thanks to its share of an £18 million award for beauty spots…

Heritage fund to be shared across 11 British areas
The Guardian

The Living Wandle project aims to breathe new life into the River Wandle which flows through four boroughs, Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth in south London…