Biodiversity and Habitat Restoration
The historic network of parks, gardens, towpaths and avenues of the Arcadian Thames forms the capital’s largest interconnected wildlife corridor that stretches from Inner London to the Surrey Hills and beyond. This mosaic of habitats supports a diverse range of resident and migratory species. The TLS has worked at a landscape level with a diverse variety of partners to enhance these riparian habitats and green corridors implementing a range of local and national initiatives. Increasingly, measures to restore natural floodplains are being explored linked to the London Rivers Action Plan, the London Biodiversity Action Plan and the Water Framework Directive. Measures have included:
- Enhancement of Green corridors
- Naturalisation of riverbanks
- Reedbed creation and management
- Sand martin, owl and bat box installation
- Enhancement of backwaters and other wet habitats
- Re-introduction of meadowland
- Pollarding and coppicing of riverside trees
- 4km of native hedge planting layered in a traditional way
- Tree planting – over 5,000 native trees planted
- Restoration of Floodplain channels at Home Park
- Measures to re-introduce productive landscapes
Landscape and Garden Restoration
The Arcadian Thames has more historic parks and gardens than almost any other location in the UK. Many of these historic places however had fallen into disrepair and were in need of restoration. The Thames Landscape Strategy has acted as the catalyst for an ambitious restoration programme across for a range of different open spaces including formal gardens, historic parkland, grand avenues and informal public spaces. Whilst the TLS has managed many of these restoration programmes directly, much more has been achieved through the wider action of partners – the TLS stimulating these programmes and co-ordinating activity at a landscape scale. Activities include:
- Preparation of landscape restoration masterplans
- Assistance with partner landscape restoration masterplans
- Re-opening of lost views
- Avenue restoration
- Historic landscape restoration
- Preparation of historic garden management plans
- Garden restoration
The TLS has championed the enhancement of the ordinary public open spaces that connect the main historic sites clustered along the Thames. These include intimate spaces such as Ranelegh Drive, bustling promenade walks and historic waterfronts such as Richmond and Kingston Riversides. Working in partnership with the four boroughs much work has been carried out to improve these spaces focussing on the following themes:
- streetscape surfacing
- lighting (to improve both the appearance of light columns/lanterns and the light source itself – for people and nocturnal wildlife)
- repair and enhancements of historic walls, railings and steps
- placement of litter bins
- repair of benches
- access improvements
- enhancements that aid mental mapping and legibility
- planting and street trees
Achievement and Success: Landscape Restoration, Biodiversity and Streetscape
Landscape restoration, biodiversity and streetscape achievement include:
- The TLS has raised over £5m to enhance a range of habitats along the Thames.The implementation of major landscape improvement works at more than 36 sites; across four local authorities, including two historic royal palaces, two SSSI sites and ten registered historic landscape sites.
- Worked with 20 strategic partners, with 15 core funding partners, and more than 180 community groups and special interest societies.
- The first TLS implemented project in Feb 1995 was enhancements to King Henry VIII‟s Mound in Richmond Park, provided a viewing area to enhance the keyhole vista to St Paul’s Cathedral and the panoramic view to Windsor Castle. This set a precedent for the partnership working.
- In 1997 restoration of lost Lancelot „Capability‟ Brown vistas at Syon Park and re-instatement of the historic Kew Meridian to the King’s Observatory demonstrated the commitment to enhancing the landscape across private grounds for the public benefit would be supported.
- Production of landscape restoration masterplans for the Ham Avenues and the Old Deer Park- both by Kim Wilkie
- Restoration of the Ham Avenues involving scrub clearance, new tree planting, timber fence replacement carried out by local volunteers, school pupils, inmates from HMP Latchmere House and Feltham young offenders institute– ongoing.
- Construction of two sand martin banks at Eel Pie Island and Richmond Park – 2008 and 2012
- Restoration of Hunter’s Pond – 2005
- Restoration of the Hampton Court Avenues including the Long Water Avenue- Historic Royal Palaces 2006
- Major landscape enhancements at Bushy Park and Syon Estate- Royal Parks and Syon Estates – ongoing
- Production and phased implementation of the Hurst Park Management Plan – ongoing
- Garden Restoration of many locally important sites
- Celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the 1902 act to protect the view from Richmond Hill by launching and subsequent implementation the London’s Arcadia project. This £5.4M project, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, saw the implementation of 7 major landscape projects on and below Richmond Hill. It engaged volunteers in environmental improvements and awareness raising for a total of 105,000 hours. Delivered workshops to 5695 pupils at 31 schools in Richmond and neighbouring boroughs. Worked with over 4000 family members in activity days. Provided 45,000 education and walking leaflets to the community. Delivered 25 targeted projects to vulnerable and hard to reach groups. Engaged with the public at 23 community events, producing 7 new learning resources by working with 12 partner delivery organisation – 2001 – 2009
- Development and installation of bat friendly lighting on the Warren Footpath linked to the restoration of the Ham Avenues and habitat improvements around Ham House that collectively support the Bat super highway linking the feeding grounds along the river and its towpaths with the roosting sites within Richmond Park.. This demonstrated that interconnected landscapes can be managed in a holistic way.
- Undertaken demonstration projects such as the Albany Reach, East Molesey riverbank restoration project. The project to re-introduce 350m of naturalised river bank was completed in 1998. It has continued to be improved, providing better habitat for wildlife and an aesthetically enhanced environment for people to enjoy views across the river to Hampton Court Palace.
- Restoration of the Home Park Water Meadows – ongoing
- Assistance in the restoration of Marble Hill House Gardens- with English Heritage – ongoing
- Preparation of a garden restoration masterplan and part implementation at Canbury Gardens – ongoing
- Major enhancements to Waterman’s Park – 1996 – 2002
- Advised on the preparation of Kew Gardens Landscape Masterplan and World Heritage Site Management Plan
- Advised on the preparation of the Hampton Court Landscape Management Plan
- Restoration of the Richmond Promenade pocket parks including Bridge House garden, bandstand Gardens and Rotary Gardens- 2003 – 2009.
- Restoration of Petersham Lodge Wood- ongoing
- Restoration of Cholmondeley Walk – 2003
- Restored the historic wharf by the White Cross pub at Richmond riverside- 2005.
- Followed a holistic approach to landscape maintenance; using traditional timber tree fences rather than plastic guards, using volunteers to control weeds around newly planted hedges, pulling Himalayan balsam by hand rather than spraying, using willow spilling for riverbank stabilisation, allowing native plants to grow in rural areas but controlling them in formal urban areas, and provision of dead wood loggeries in rural areas when bank side trees are removed.
- Orleans house garden was restored to a Regency flowery woodland in the grounds to complement the historic art gallery by volunteers who also maintain the grounds – ongoing.
- Re-opening of the view to Marble Hill House and Orleans House from the river by the removal of scrub on the towpath boundary by volunteers – 2002.
- Publication of the Brentford a Waterway Town! Masterplan- 2010
- Reed bed planting by Twickenham towpath – 2007.
- Species rich wildflower meadow planting in 14 locations.
- Hedge laying, carried out by volunteers in 16 locations including Petersham Meadows, Ham Avenues and Nightingale Lane. Introduced fruit trees into hedgerows to encourage local food production.
- Streetscape enhancements to Twickenham Embankment – 2010
- Streetscape enhancements to Isleworth Promenade – 2005
- Streetscape enhancements to Brentford Creek – 2012
- Putting the Thames Back into Kingston started in 2006. This included new landscape works such as lighting, footpaths, cycleways, street furniture and signage, with improved links from the town centre to the river. It also included a programme of community events such as the Kingston Festival of the River, carried out in partnership with Kingston Town Centre Management to promote the riverside as a vibrant place to visit.
- Streetscape enhancements to Kingston Riverside- ongoing
- Tree planting on Thames Path at Richmond Road Isleworth – 2005
- Conducts a continuing programme of river related environmental monitoring, such as the work undertaken during the “draw off‟. This programme incorporates invasive species monitoring with the Zoological Society of London and Marine Conservation Society. As it utilises a network of volunteer groups it also leads to greater awareness of the issues regarding river pollution and invasive species problems.
- Co-ordinated monthly bat surveys between Twickenham and Richmond
- Works with London Biodiversity Action Plan partners to deliver projects that address local and regional priority habitat and species specific improvements. These include creating new reed beds, supporting bat populations and planting Black poplars within the Thames floodplain.
- Contributed towards major strategic plans such as Water Framework Directive Thames liaison panel, Thames Estuary Flood Risk Management study and Tidal Thames Habitat Action Plan Working Group.
- Published the Restoration of the Lost Floodplain report to guide TLS project work
- Incorporated increased flood risk due to climate change into the projects being delivered. For example, the Hammerton’s and Douglas boardwalks which provide dry routes away from the towpath. These traditional oak built boardwalks have been designed to allow them to be raised in height as the level of flood increases
Further information and documents:
Estuary Edges – a Thames Estuary Partnership and Environment Agency guide to ecological design of bankside works
Policy, Legal and Planning Requirements
Biotechnically Engineered Designs
Structurally Engineered Designs
Aftercare and Monitoring
London Biodiversity Partnership
UK Post-2010 Biodiverstiy Framework
JNCC – UK BAP Priority Species and Habitats
Bat Conservation Trust
Richmond Park Wildlife
Busy Park Wildlife
Zoological Society of London
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers
Richmond Environment Network events calendar