4. Lemsford Springs Management and Restoration
Themes: Ecology and biodiversity; Public engagement
- Improve the river’s morphology
- Improve bankside and in-channel habitat
- Improve public engagement with the river
- Improve public access to the river (virtual and physical)
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust own and manage Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve, which lies alongside the River Lea. The site contains spring-fed chalk stream lagoons, a nationally rare habitat, along with a mosaic of habitats including woodland, grassland and marsh.
These lagoons contain managed watercress beds, which were once a vital source of vitamin C for the population of London during the Victorian era.
An abundance of freshwater shrimp and small fish can be found in the lagoons, providing a vital food source for a number of wading birds. Especially important are the Green Sandpipers, which over-winter at the lagoons and can often be spotted from the two bird hides.
The reserve is accessible by key with permission from the Trust and receives over 1,000 visitors per year, who enjoy access to the whole reserve through the provision of bridges over the River Lea and lagoons.
To maintain the biodiversity of the reserve, the Trust regularly re-gravels the lagoons and carries out ongoing vegetation management. From time to time, larger restoration works need to take place to maintain the habitats in optimal condition.
Between 2016 - 2019 the Trust and its volunteers worked to:
- Re-gravel areas of the watercress beds where high flow had washed these away.
- Reduce erosion of the banks of the River Lea through 50m of willow spiling.
- Install channel deflectors to reduce pressure on the new spiling and prevent bank erosion.
- Pollard bankside willows to maintain their health and prolong their life.
- Improve visitor access and experience through the repair and maintenance of hides, bridges and boardwalks.