‘Fan­tas­tic dif­fer­ence’ to the look of brook

Vol­un­teers cre­ate ‘berms’ to at­tract more wildlife

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

A KILO­ME­TRE of a Green Flag-win­ning brook has been com­pletely re­stored, thanks to the help of 85 lo­cal vol­un­teers.

Lon­don Wildlife Trust, with the help of un­paid vol­un­teers and £41,371 in fund­ing from SITA Trust, have been en­cour­ag­ing na­ture to re­turn to Yead­ing Brook Mead­ows.

The trust cleared much of the dense scrub from the sides of the river and has cre­ated six­teen ‘berms’ along the river banks, which mimic the me­an­ders and curves of a nat­u­ral river.

The berms change the flow of wa­ter, cre­at­ing fast and slow spots that favour dif­fer­ent species of fish, aquatic in­ver­te­brates and plant life.

Each berm was made from hawthorn and black­thorn, har­vested from the stream bank and held in place by wooden stakes.

Tom White, con­ser­va­tion project of­fi­cer with Lon­don Wildlife Trust, said: “With the awesome help of nu­mer­ous vol­un­teers and fund­ing from SITA Trust, we’ve been able to make a fan­tas­tic dif­fer­ence to this stretch of the Yead­ing Brook.

“An over­grown, canalised stretch of river has been trans­formed into a wildlife friendly wa­ter­course.

“Aquatic life is re­turn­ing fast, with king­fish­ers and nu­mer­ous fish species be­ing sighted by our vol­un­teers. We hope it’s only go­ing to get bet­ter over the com­ing years!”

Yead­ing Brook Mead­ows is a na­ture re­serve man­aged by Lon­don Wildlife Trust, which was given a Green Flag Award in July 2015, in recog­ni­tion of the high qual­ity of the re­serve.

The nat­u­ral flow of the river had pre­vi­ously been forced into a straight, ar­ti­fi­cial chan­nel, dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing the brook’s ap­peal to wildlife.

The banks had also be­come densely over­grown with scrub, re­duc­ing the amount of light that could reach the wa­ter.

Mar­i­anne Ivin, of SITA Trust, said: “We are de­lighted to have been able to help with the restora­tion of the Yead­ing Brook project.

“It is clear that in a rel­a­tively short time [for wildlife] the changes have started to make an im­pact. It will be great to see how the area de­vel­ops into the fu­ture.”

The nat­u­ral river bed was gouged out when the brook was straight­ened years ago, so the trust over­saw the cre­ation of eight gravel ‘rif­fles’.

Th­ese short stretches of shal­low, bub­bly wa­ter im­prove the river’s flow for a va­ri­ety of aquatic life and pro­vide an ideal spot for fish to lay their eggs.

Large amounts of Hi­malayan bal­sam, a plant that tends to smother other veg­e­ta­tion, was also up­rooted and cleared along 1,800m of the river bank, al­low­ing a richer range of plants to flour­ish.

n TRANS­FOR­MA­TION: Vol­un­teers help to cre­ate berms along Yead­ing Brook

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