The Beverley Brook flows briefly along the edge of Barnes Common and Barnes Green, as well as along the edge of the Vine Road Recreation Ground. Although at first glance this may seem a rather small and insignificant stream, this small section is part of a much greater whole and the management of this water course is an important, complex and collaborative process.
The Brook has a fascinating social and ecological history. It is in itself an ecosystem comprising various habitats, and part of a much wider catchment – what happens at the top influences what goes on at the bottom!
The Friends of Barnes Common is pleased to be part of a group of organisations operating a catchment-based, whole-ecosystem approach. This includes the management of Himalayan Balsam, as well as encouraging species including fish, eels and water voles.
In collaboration with the South East Rivers Trust, we have prepared a document that we hope goes some way to answering questions.
Conservation Work: Improving the marginal vegetation
Heavy footfall along the banks of the brook has led to a noticeable loss of marginal vegetation. This has created additional access points to the brook, which are used by dogs and people, further increasing bank erosion, downstream silting and disturbance to wildlife. The loss of vegetation results in a weaker river bank and makes it more susceptible to soil washing away.
Local wildlife relies heavily on marginal vegetation. Water voles, migrating flounder and eel, spawning stickleback, as well as breeding birds such as grey wagtails and kingfishers, and many invertebrates such as dragon and damselflies, will all benefit. Therefore, by improving and restoring the vegetation along the brook we hope to improve and enrich the environment for its wildlife.
The first phase of the work was carried out in winter 2018/2019 and involved moving the path further away from the waters edge and allowing more light to reach the bank to encourage marginal vegetation. The summer of 2019 saw a rapid pulse of vegetation develop within the new margin which was a boon for wildlife, with blackcaps nesting in part of the bramble margin and the swans taking refuge on the now protected stretch of the brook.
Winter 2019/2020 will see us continue the work further downstream and focus upon the reed bed, where paths have eroded into the reed bed and the lack of protection has meant that dog disturbance inhibits any nesting birds within the reed bed.
In spring 2019 the Beverley brook entered into the Riverfly monitoring scheme which, using kick sampling and abundance counts of certain invertebrates within the water, is able to monitor the quality of the water and provides a warning system for pollution events. Barnes Common (by the bridge to the green) is one of the monitoring spots, where each month a team of volunteers help carry out the survey. The results for all areas of the Beverley brook can be found here.