5. Lemsford Springs and River Lea 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)

Project description

This projects aims to improve habitats along the River Lea and safeguard the chalk spring lagoons at Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust own and manage Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve, which contains a mosaic of coppice woodland and wetland habitats.

Notably, the River Lea flows for about 0.5km through the site and it also contains a series of spring-fed chalk stream lagoons, which are a nationally rare habitat. These lagoons are managed as traditional watercress beds and are home to the UKs largest number of wintering Green Sandpipers.

The river and lagoons need regular management to maintain biodiversity across the reserve. From time to time, larger restoration works are required to maintain the habitats in optimal condition. 

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. 
  • This work was funded by the Tesco Bags Of Help Scheme

 2021 - 2025 the Trust will be:

  • Commissioning a contractor to design a river restoration scheme between Lemsford and Stanborough Nature Reserve
  • Delivering restoration work to improve habitat quality along 2km of the River Lea.
  • Undertaking work to improve flow regimes and management of the chalk lagoons.
  • Carrying out ecological monitoring to assess how the restoration improves wildlife across the two sites.

This work is being funded by Highways England as part of their Network For Nature Programme.

Grid reference: TL222123
Project lead: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Funding source: Highways England
Project start: 2020
Project end: 2025
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lemsford Springs re-gravelling 2015

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.