River restoration brings residents closer to wildlife

River volunteers (c) Ayub Khan

A partnership project between Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the Wild Trout Trust has restored river habitat along the River Lea in Wheathampstead for the benefit of wildlife and the local community.

A 30-metre stretch of the River Lea at King Edward Place, a residential community for retirees, has been restored by Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust. Over three days, staff members were joined by a team of 15 local volunteers who built a series of brash wood ledges in the river channel and planted them up with colourful aquatic plants. A number of bankside trees were also pruned, allowing more light into the river for these plants to grow. This extra habitat will provide food, shelter and breeding areas in and around the river for wildlife such as dragonflies, wildfowl, fish and potentially even the endangered water vole. As well as this, it creates a beautiful vista for the residents of King Edward Place who treasure the riverside property and watching wildlife that lives there.

We are very grateful for the hard work of the team of staff members and volunteers, and so will be the local wildlife for many years to come!
Guy Morton-Smith
King Edward Place Residents Association

The restoration programme was the idea of King Edward Place residents who wanted to see more wildlife thriving in the area. Guy Morton-Smith, Chair of the King Edward Place Residents Association says: “The residents here are incredibly happy that Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust has kindly managed the whole project for us. We are very grateful for the hard work of the team of staff members and volunteers, and so will be the local wildlife for many years to come!”

Team of volunteers at the River Lea

The team of volunteers with Sarah at the River Lea

Sarah Perry, Living Rivers Officer at Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, is pleased with the final result: “Thanks to the great work of everyone involved, the restoration project has been a huge success. It’s great to see that the residents are so passionate about helping wildlife, especially because the River Lea is such an important part of Hertfordshire’s river network.”

Before and after the restoration

The project was made possible thanks to generous funding from Thames Water via their Community Infrastructure Fund and forms part of the wider river catchment restoration plan. Historic alterations and dredging have left parts of the River Lea damaged and it suffers in places from being too wide and straight, silted-up and with little plant cover along its margins.

If you know of similar opportunities to improve the river where you live, please get in touch with Sarah on sarah.perry@hmwt.org.