Building bridges across the Thames Chase Community Forest

Building bridges across the Thames Chase Community Forest

Conservation Volunteers in action at Bedfords Park

Earlier this summer, the Thames Chase Conservation Volunteers were out in force at Bedfords Park, ensuring that the popular destination was spick and span in time for the summer holidays, as well as enhancing the recent leaky dam project at the site.

Hold back the river

The markings allow conservation teams to know the height of the water levels behind the dams

At Easter, the volunteers had been instrumental in delivering a Natural Flood Management project in partnership with Thames 21 and the Land of the Fanns scheme.

The work aims to alleviate the risk of flash flooding lower down the Rise Stream area by slowing down the flow of water during periods of wet weather.

By pooling the water, it is hoped that both the vegetation and wildlife in the area benefit, and that this practice will enhance the landscape by using more traditional, and – where possible – natural, flood prevention methods.

Rather than hard-engineering, volunteers use locally-occurring materials, such as branches and sticks, to partially-block parts of the stream. This slows down water flow, leading to small pools building up behind them, and also prevents larger items being transported downstream where they may cause more significant blockages close to urban development or drainage systems.

Building bridges and creating new homes

Elsewhere at Bedfords Park, the team have installed three new bridges over the stream, replacing the previous planks that had become rotten and unstable.

However, nothing goes to waste in the Community Forest, and the rotting wood has been laid in such a way as to create a fantastic bug hotel – perfect for the invertebrates of the forest, as well as intrepid young explorers with the magnifying glasses and bug-viewers (available for sale in the Forest Centre shop).

Planting for the future

The walled garden at Bedfords Park is now managed as a community kitchen garden by volunteers in conjunction with Havering Council and the Friends of Bedfords Park. The delicious fruit and vegetables grown regularly find their way into the gate shop and scrummy dishes across the Borough.

Our team have built some new coppiced hazel wigwam structures, which will be used to train bean plants, as well as weeding some of the beds.

Get involved

The Conservation Volunteers projects run all year round across the Forest. From helping children in the Defra-funded Trees for Learning initiative to clearing walkways, and from restoring wetland habitats to removing invasive species from regenerated landscapes, there are many hands-on activities to contribute to, with our teams heading out most Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There are also a range of ways to contribute to the work of the Thames Chase Trust while at the Forest Centre at Broadfields, including reception and visitor experience management, administrative assistance and events coordination.

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