River opens for wildlife at Stafford Road Open Space

River opens for wildlife at Stafford Road Open Space

The Mayor of Hillingdon (centre) at the launch of the river meanders project

Joint project with Hillingdon Council and Environment Agency helps improve wildlife habitats on the Yeading Brook

The Mayor of Hillingdon has helped celebrate a rewilding project on the Yeading Brook in Ruislip by sporting waders and removing invasive species from the riverbank. Cllr John Morgan got stuck in at Stafford Road Open Space with helping to remove invasive Himalayan Balsam as London Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, and Hillingdon Council officially opened a restored section of the river.

Stafford Road Open Space is situated in the South Ruislip floodplain of Yeading Brook, part of the Crane Valley landscape and a tributary of the River Thames. Work began in January this year to reconnect former meanders and create a backwater, which provides new habitats for fish and other aquatic wildlife and increases the resilience of the river and its wildlife against threats such as flooding and pollution.

Trust volunteers, with help from Aquamaintain contractors and staff from Blue Sky during a ‘Wild Workday’, have also planted 900 wetland plants along the riverbanks. The wetlands perform an important function as linear habitats, which connect different parts of the site and allow plants, insects and birds to move easily around Stafford Road Open Space and further afield.

As well as creating new habitats the restoration work has opened the river up to visitors, who previously would not even have been able to see this part of the Yeading Brook because it had become so overgrown. The Willow Tree Wander Trail passes through this rustic site and is well used by local residents.

Petra Sovic Davies, Water for Wildlife Project Officer for London Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to complete this work on the Yeading Brook and help ‘rewild’ Stafford Road Open Space. We hope local people will enjoy seeing wildlife flourish once again on this part of the river.”

Mayor of Hillingdon, Cllr John Morgan, said: “We were honoured to help in clearing some of the invasive plants from the Yeading Brook, like the Himalayan Balsam. Without work from the likes of London Wildlife Trust, our riverbanks and other oases of wildlife would be unable to thrive.”

Together the Trust, Hillingdon Council, Crane Valley Partnership (CVP), Thames Rivers Trust and Environment Agency (EA), have worked in partnership to develop and deliver river improvement projects in the Crane Valley for wildlife and local people; contributing to the wider Crane Catchment Plan.

London Wildlife Trust, funded by Thames Water via CVP, produced the Yeading Brook Project Identification Plan, which outlines all the improvements and feasibility studies within Hillingdon.

The Trust has already completed work to transform Brookside Open Space, Yeading Brook Meadows, and Gutteridge Wood. The work to improve river habitats at Stafford Road Open Space was jointly funded by Environment Agency and Hillingdon Council.