Thames Landscape Strategy

Rewilding Arcadia Consultation Period


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The Thames Landscape Strategy is currently developing a new project Rewilding Arcadia. It was intended to carry out a period of scoping consultation to see whether our partners support the direction that the initiative proposes however, this has understandably been put on hold during the Covid-19 emergency.  In the meantime we have produced two presentations that outline some of the proposals that can be accessed from this webpage.  Please do note that the ideas are just TLS aspirations at present and consultation will be carried out as soon as is possible.

Rewilding Arcadia is all about re-thing the floodplain as the climate emergency continues to change the river environment, increasing flood risk and altering established habits and recreational patterns. In the future, managing flood risk will be more than simply building flood walls. Traditional defences such as embankments and barriers will continue to have their place, but in the face of climate change and the need for sustainable approaches, the role of floodplains has to be revisited.

Rewilding Arcadia sets out to restore some of the lost functions of a natural floodplain in order to re-connect wildlife and people with their river to demonstrate and promote an understanding of the multiple functions of the floodplain through a series of environmental measures and educational projects working in partnership with communities, authorities and practitioners

At its heart, Rewilding Arcadia is about helping the river to reclaim its floodplain back in a managed and sustainable way, restoring the natural processes and habitats that once governed life along the Thames. In this way a whole series of additional recreational, economic and health benefits can be achieved. 

The following presentation provides a brief introduction to an exciting new project called Rewilding Arcadia launched by Sir David Attenborough at the 25th anniversary of the Thames Landscape Strategy.

Click here for the 20 minute online presentation

Click here for the 45 minute presentation

Rewilding Arcadia will support a long-term sustainable management plan to encourage universal access, resilience, understanding and enjoyment of the Arcadian Thames floodplain by re-connecting people and wildlife with water, through the enhancement, conservation and rewilding of the natural floodplain.

Re-connecting people with the Natural Arcadian Thames Floodplain

  • This aim sets out To re-discover, value and increase understanding about the connection between people with rivers and their floodplain using the principles of rewilding, integrated catchment management planning and climate change as a guide.
  • It will use the role that water has in shaping the identity of communities at a local, regional and global level to demonstrate how communities, planners, policy makers and practitioners can adapt to and become more resilient to climate change and flood risk.
  • Importantly it will encourage a range of communities and those dis-connected with the Thames to have a greater understanding of the unique history and function of the Thames floodplain through a series of education, life-long learning and outreach initiatives linked to the making space for water, flood risk, catchment management and Rewilding Arcadia processes.

A series of education and outreach goals have been set to achieve this.

Using the Landscape

  • To improve social inclusion by involving people from all areas through consultation, volunteering and events and To increase the recreational, health and economic value of the River Thames corridor
  • It also sets out ways to improve infrastructure (including signage, interpretation, footpaths, cycleways, bridges and viewing places) in a way that fosters greater access to the floodplain and its wildlife, both in times of drought and flood and, its significance in terms of heritage, use and conservation

Restoration of the Lost Floodplain.

  • To enable natural flood management through the rewilding of some of the lost functions of the floodplain at six strategic locations to increase community and business resilience and enhance natural capital and associated ecosystem services.

The proposed six strategic sites for rewilding are

Desborough Island and Shepperton

Hurst Park and Molesey Riverside

The Home Park Water Meadows at Hampton Court Palace

Canbury Gardens Riverside in Kingston

Ham and Petersham

And the Old Deer Park, Kew Towpath and Brentford

Each of the six strategic sites will form a separate project under the umbrella of Rewildling Arcadia