Tag Archives: South East Rivers Trust

Rivers & Wetlands Community Day: Friday 27 March

I have had a very exciting last two weeks at the Wandle Trust having spent more time outside in the river than in the office – lucky me!

On Friday we had our second Rivers & Wetlands Community Day with 15 volunteers joining us out in the sunshine. Tim had stored up a very long to do list since our previous Rivers & Wetlands Community Day in October last year where we added 2000 plants to the restored section of the Wandle at Butter Hill in Carshalton.

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Firstly we had to add 500 native marginal plants to the newly restored section on Mill Lane. As always, we ordered a variety of different species so we could create a natural marginal community on the banks of the Wandle. Species included ragged robin, water mint, sedges and purple loosestrife.

Planting

Meanwhile, some of our volunteers tackled the invasive non-native Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)which had established on the banks of the Wandle. Canadian goldenrod produces dense stands which out-compete native species, reducing habitat diversity. We caught it early in the season when it was just coming through as small purple tinted shrubs. You can see how dense the root system is in the image below.

Canadian goldenrod

There had been a fair bit of fly-tipping since October that we were keen to tackle, so a team of us ran a mini cleanup while the planting was going on. Some highlights included a bed frame, a motorbike at Hackbridge and a car seat. In total, 40 bags were collected which is almost the number we get on a regular cleanup!

Litter picking dream team

Next on the agenda was raking and seed sowing; coppicing and pinning in some Large Woody Material which had fallen into the river.

Woody Debris

Altogether it was a busy day and we couldn’t have got it all done without our volunteers.

So thank you all for coming: Aaron, Andy, Charles, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Geoff, James, John, Lorna, Mike, Steve, Sue and Wally.

Rivers & Wetlands Community Days

Welcome to our new Invasive Species Officer!

We’d like to give a warm welcome to our latest recruit Alan, our new Invasive Non-Native Species Officer!

Polly and Alan

We’ve stolen Alan from Scotland where he was working on Argyll’s three National Nature Reserves for Scottish Natural Heritage. Before this Alan was in Cape Town, South Africa, controlling invasive species in the metropolitan area so he has a wealth of experience.

Alan is running an invasive species project on the River Wandle as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership. The project aims to map invasive species along the Wandle corridor and set up management plans and volunteer teams to work towards eradication.

Alan will be tackling a wide variety of invasive non-native species including some well-known faces such as Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed.

Himalayan balsam

To get started, Alan has been taking a refresher in Pesticide Application along with Polly our Volunteer Officer. Here is our invasive species ghost busting team…

INS

So who you gonna call?

Alan and Polly!

Photo Credit: Himalayan balsam, GBNNSS

Ravensbury Back Channel: The final touches

Two weeks ago, we spent three days back at our Ravensbury Park Back Channel project to finish off the works.

Day 1

Day 1 was spent preparing a site for 2000 plants which were due to arrive the following day.  Our loyal volunteers arrived expecting an easy day of planting and instead we surprised them with spades, shovels and a huge pile of soil! We needed to create a gentler slope on the bank and to do that involved some serious work. But with visions of tea and cake we soon got stuck in and the bank started to take shape.

Luke working hard

Meanwhile, we also had a team putting up bird boxes in the area. These bird boxes have been designed with grey wagtails in mind, a bird which you can often see skipping along the back channel.

The Bird Boxes

The day ended with a pilot test of our bat boxes. We have brought five bat boxes to put up in the area. They are odd looking things with flat wood and small crevices between for the bats to roost in – almost like a bat multistory car park! With wire and a ladder, Luke and the volunteers tried to install the first one to perfect the technique ready for the next day.

A Bat Multi-Storey Car Park

Day 2

Day 2 soon came round with slightly improved weather and all 2000 plants had arrived! We ordered a variety of species – some were to be planted in the water, and others would be added to the banks such as lesser pond sedge and reed canary grass. All together these would make a great marginal community of native plants.

2000 Plants

We had 2 sites to plant up so we divided the trays into piles of different species – one pile for each site. Our 9 volunteers then headed off to site number 1 armed with dibbers, waders and gloves.

First site all planted up

By lunchtime, the site was finished and everyone was ready for tea, coffee and cake.

A planted plant

After lunch we moved onto site 2 and decided to focus on the plants that needed water so they were in before we had to leave for the day. So it was wader time again…

Day 3

On our third and final day we were joined by 5 volunteers to do the last bits of the project. First we all focused on the final 1000 plants – and even I had the chance to get involved!

Planters at work

Louise from the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership team couldn’t resist coming for a visit and doing some planting as well.

Louise planting away

The pile slowly got smaller and after a quick lunch break we had all 2000 plants happily installed in their new homes.

Yet more planting

The next job was raking and seeding the bare ground with wildflower and grass mix. It was a great 3 days out in the field and a big thank you to all the volunteers who came to help!

The finished work

A big thanks to Lawrence who helped run the event with Luke and myself.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Barbara, Charles, Dave, Jason, John, Lawrence, Maureen, Mike, Neil, Nick, Rob, Tim and Wally.

Next week – Wimbledon Common and the Beverley Brook!

 

Going Round the Bend: Next Stop a Re-naturalised River

By Lawrence Hemmings, our River Restoration Volunteer

After a great deal of planning by Luke the habitat improvement works on the Ravensbury Park Back Channel have begun with the help of our contractors – Ru and Jack of AquaMaintain. The digger and dumper have arrived as have the hazel faggot bundles posts, not forgetting the loathsome pile driver (a 20 kg hammering tool essential for river habitat work). And without further ado splash!  Work could commence.

In order to create a more biodiverse, naturally functioning river, complete with runs, glides, pools and riffles, the Ravensbury Channel needs a little encouragement.  By securing the faggot bundles in an irregular zig-zag on both sides of the river, the variation in flow will scour out deeper pools, form riffles, and, with any luck, some gravels will appear – perfect spawning grounds for amorous fish!

The Back Channel

So Luke, Jack and I splashed into the river with our trusty pile driver at the ready. We pinioned hazel faggot bundles in place by hammering in stakes on both sides, and a new bank line quickly started to appear.

Meanwhile our adept digger driver Ru set about clearing the brush from the park-side bank of the river where we have removed the toeboarding, sheet piling and other bank reinforcements. In no time at all Ru had begun re-grading the steep-sided river banks, which will allow us to connect the river to its natural soil bank. The bank can then be planted with typical marginal plants, such as sedges and reeds, creating a continuum from aquatic to terrestrial habitat. We will also be digging a small back water, where the slack flows will allow fish fry to seek refuge away from the perils of the fast lane – the new turbulent Back Channel.

The Back Channel

Stay tuned for more updates!

Fungi versus Diffuse Pollution

Our Water Quality Officer, Olly, has been having a busy few months working to tackle urban diffuse pollution on the River Wandle.

If you missed the introduction to his work – have a quick read now!

This week, Olly, myself and some lucky volunteers will be installing the next pollution mitigation measure: Mycofilters.

Mycofilters (Mycos for short) are mesh sacks packed full of straw, wood chip and mycelia (the non-fruiting part of fungi). Over time the mushroom mycelia grow throughout the sack and create an expert filtration device. Once placed in the river, the mycelia filter out contaminants from the water which passes through them.

Mycos!

The Wandle Trust has already trialled growing and installing these filters. In November 2014, we held another successful volunteer day to make a further 60 bags with a slightly modified and more robust design.

This week we will be taking these fully grown Mycos and installing them on sites where pipes are potentially polluting the river. The Mycos will be installed securely to ensure there is no flood risk and will be monitored carefully over the next two months to determine their effectiveness.

So if you spot something odd looking close to the river – it is probably a Myco! Please don’t remove them and if you see one in jeopardy – let us know!

A BIG thank you to our Myco-making volunteers from November. Thanks to you we managed to make 6 Mycos in less than four hours! I’d also like to thank our sewing team who took the time to sew up 60 bags for us to stuff full of pollution busting goodness.

Our Myco Makers!

 

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

I am sure many of you have started to think about what New Year’s resolutions you might make for 2015. If you’re like me, I usually go for “exercising more”, which means joining the gym and then proceed to never use my membership…

But help is at hand. The Wandle Trust has some suggestions for your resolutions this year, and they’re a bit different because they’re all about your local river!

Resolution One: Report Pollution!

If you spot a pollution incident on the Wandle or any other river, report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60. You are the eyes and ears for your local stream so don’t hesitate to report anything you think is unusual!

Connect your House right

Resolution Two: Connect Right

Some pollution is caused by bad plumbing. Houses may have been connected to the wrong drainage system, sending waste directly into the nearest river. You can check that your house is connected right at www.connectright.org.uk

Resolution Three: Clean with Care

Phosphates are a big problem in both urban and rural rivers. A high phosphate level reduces water quality and increases the growth of algae blooms. Eco-friendly detergents are specially manufactured to have a minimal phosphate content, so you can use these to protect your river and its wildlife.

Wash with Care!

Resolution Four: Wash with Care

If you wash your car or wheelie bin directly on the road, any chemicals you’re using will go straight into the drains on the road which lead to the river. However if you wash these items (and anything else) on your gravel drive or grass garden, you are adding a buffer which reduces chemicals heading to the river.

Resolution Five: Save Water

The more water you use, the more water needs to be abstracted from local water sources and treated by your local sewage treatment works. So by using less water, you keep more water in  the river for wildlife, but also reduce the volume which needs to be cleaned.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015? Let us know by Twitter or Facebook!

The Siltex is in!

Have you walked past Carshalton Ponds today? If you have, you may think it is looking a little different…

The White Carshalton Ponds

The ponds have turned a milky-white colour. But do not fear, this was intentional! Working with the Environment Agency, we have just added two tonnes of Siltex to the ponds.

Siltex is a natural chalk-like substance which helps to increase the speed of silt breakdown by stimulating natural processes. (Click here to read more about why we are doing this).

We had eight dedicated and brave volunteers join us at 8am on chilly Tuesday morning. Everyone was kitted out with waders, goggles and masks – Siltex isn’t dangerous but we wanted to be extra careful.

Siltex Volunteers

Steve stepped up as Captain Siltex to join Olly in the boat, throwing Siltex overboard in the deeper waters. For the morning, our vessel was kindly lent to us by Sutton Council. In the afternoon, Olly and Steve commandeered a smaller boat from the Sutton Ecology Centre. Without these boats, we wouldn’t have been able to apply the Siltex at all so we are extremely grateful to Dave Warburton, Ian Hudson, Warren Chapman, Collin Franklin and Mark Featherstone for loaning and delivering these boats on the day.

Captain Siltex

While Steve and Olly sailed the open seas, the rest of us were adding Siltex from the shore, showing off our throwing skills. This allowed us to get a good coverage over the shallower parts the boats could not access.

Adding Siltex by hand

Throughout the day, the Environment Agency were taking readings further downstream to ensure everything was working as it should.

Olly will be monitoring this regularly for the next few months to determine if it is a cost effective solution to the management of silt at Carshalton Ponds. Last week, Olly and I took some pre-Siltex water samples on a chilly and damp morning.

The Water Samples

Why are there four different bottles I hear you ask?

The reason for this is that there are several different substances which are of interest in the ponds. We are interested in what effect the Siltex might have in speeding up the breakdown of several contaminants (e.g. car exhaust particles) as well as reducing the overall volume of mud. Different tests are required for different substances – for instance hydrocarbons (oils and fuels) stick to plastic, so must be stored in a glass bottle if they are to be extracted and analysed. So different bottles are needed for each different test!

While we were out we rescued Woody from the Wandle – he is now our unofficial Mascot for the project! He even joined us for the Siltex event, although came out a little worse for wear….

Woody Before and After

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates!

Launching our new South East Rivers Trust website

sert_logo_high_res

As part of expanding our charitable area of benefit to cover several other rivers across south east England, as the South East Rivers Trust, we’ve just launched a new website to represent this area of our activity.

Southeastriverstrust.org will feature details of all our future work on the Hogsmill, Beverley Brook and other rivers.

If you live anywhere in the south eastern area, and would like to get involved in our partnership work on the Beverley Brook, Darent, Dour, Hogsmill, Medway, Mole, Eastern Rother or Stour, please let us know!

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.