The previous post ‘Hogsmill River transformed into wetland’ described the steps taken earlier this year to improve green spaces on the Knights Park campus at Kingston University for both wildlife and people. The project is a collaboration between Kingston University and South East Rivers Trust. Now 3 months later the culmination of the Hogsmill habitat improvement project can be seen to have been hugely successful with increased biodiversity and an improved aesthetic for the Thames tributary as it passes through the campus grounds.
This stretch of the Hogsmill River has been heavily engineered in the past to allow for development along the banks. The resulting straight channel and concrete walls offer little for wildlife. This is a collaborative project between Kingston University, The Environment Agency and Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.
Volunteers have introduced timber, woody debris, gravels and native marginal planting to create a new naturalistic river. This will encourage a natural river processes which creates a greater diversity of habitats needed for wildlife. Much of the timber felled has been coppiced (a traditional woodland management technique) so will regrow in time.
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The task was to plant up the new riverbank areas with marginal plants ready to take advantage of the spring warmth. Following earlier preparatory work, 1000 plants were planted amongst the brash and gravel, all typical marginal species native to Britain: marsh marigold, fool’s watercress, water mint, watercress, greater and lesser sedge, flag iris and bur reed. Since then the plants have flourished and now further planting has taken place to increase the biodiversity of planting and water animal count.
Bank building and timber staking – March/April ’14
The 2 images above show how the banks of the Hogsmill have been transformed over a period of less than 4 months. The first images shows the timber staking and bank building that took place prior to planting and the second image shows additional plants ready for planting to add to the earlier planting which is now established. We will not know how successful the planting has been until higher levels of water and faster flowing water returns in the autumn and winter.
Views up and down stream showing thick vegetation as the planting becomes more established. A chicken wire fence erected to protect the young plants from waterfowl and an orange mesh fence along the bottom of the wall to catch windblown litter. It is hoped both of these can be successfully removed at a later stage once the plants are fully rooted into the river bed. Gravel has been added to the bank floor to encourage fish to spawn and ramps have been added so that river fowl such as moorhens and ducks can access the planted areas for shelter.