9. Old River Lea Barbel Project

Theme: Ecology and morphology


  • Improve riverine and riparian habitat
  • Improve river function and sustainability

Project description

A special interest group has formed to identify and address issues on the Old River Lea affecting barbel. 

Barbel is a fish species native to the River Lea and is a good indicator of river health. Their varied habitat requirements mean that if the river supports a self-sustaining barbel population, it will also provide the habitats needed by wider biodiversity that should be present within the river.

Barbel is also an important fish for angling; the River Lea is a historic site for barbel fishing and is mentioned in Isaak Walton's iconic 18th century book 'The Compleat Angler'. 

There has been a percieved decline in barbel stocks within the Old River Lea reported by anglers which is supported by historic survey data. 

In response to this, a barbel special interest sub-group was formed in 2017 by members of the Lower Lea Catchment Partnership, with the overall aim of restoring a self sustaining barbel population within the Old River Lea.

The group will achieve this by;

  • Reviewing the current state of barbel habitat within the Old River Lea.
  • Identifying threats to barbel stocks and proposing solutions.
  • Identifying priorities for barbel habitat creation and enhancement.
  • Agreeing an action plan for the partnership to work towards.   
  • Delivering planned actions.
  • Monitoring and reviewing project outcomes. 


To date work has been carried out to:

- Restore a section of the River Lea through Kings Weir and Fishers Green - see project.

- Clean gravel spawning beds to reduce siltation.

Project lead: Lee Valley Regional Park
Project partners: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, Fishers Green Consortium, Kings Weir Fishery
Funding source: LVRP, Fishers Green Consortium
Project start: April 2017
Project end: Ongoing
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.