• Natural Environment and Wildlife

    The River Wandle is one of the best examples of a chalk stream in London. Flowing quickly downstream for twelve miles to the Thames, its descent made it a powerful and reliable water source. It provided vital waterpower to the watermills and industries along its banks but became heavily polluted as a result.

    For many years now, strenuous conservation efforts have been made by local groups to restore habitats and develop ecological strategies, for instance the development of the River Catchment Plan, and for the future re-introduction of the water vole.

     

    The Wandle Valley has been reported as listing up to 104 species of birds in the river catchment, with over 250 species recorded in the Beddington Farmlands site and about 150 seen every year. Beddington Farmlands is one of the best birdwatching sites in London, and is in the process of extensive restoration and will become a major nature reserve for the public in the heart of the Regional Park.

    The Wandle Valley boasts a number of wildlife habitats for flora, fauna and wildlife.

    These include the river itself, river banks and margins, wetlands, grasslands, woodland and more traditional horticultural park landscapes.

    Wetlands

    Historically, when the river was less subjected to man’s influence in channeling and controlling the flow, the Wandle would have been a much more meandering stream, with significant areas of wetlands. Much of this character has been lost over the years as the river has been straightened and canalised. Some (fairly significant) wetlands survive, notably at;

    Watermeads Wetland Nature Reserve

    Morden Hall Park

    Bennett’s Hole

    Wilderness Island

    Spencer Road wetlands

    Wandle Valley Wetlands

  • Nature reserves

    Some of the green spaces to be found along the Wandle Valley are designated nature reserves. For example, Wandle Meadow Nature Park was, until recently, a sewage works, now inhabited by frogs, toads and newts, with plant life including hawthorn, silver birch, ash, hazel, field maple, dog-rose and blackthorn.

    The Wandle Valley has 12 Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s). Some are managed by the respective local authorities and some by charitable organisations and volunteers

    Morden Hall Park

    Wandle Meadow Nature Park

    Ravensbury Park

    Sutton Ecology Centre Grounds

    Watermeads (Mitcham)

    Bennett’s Hole Wetlands

    Wandle Valley Wetlands

    Spencer Road Wetlands

    Wilderness Island

    Beddington farmlands

    Mitcham Common

    Cranmer Green

     

  • Discover Wildife

    The Wandle Valley boosts a number of wildlife habitats for flora, fauna and wildlife.

    These include the river itself, river banks and margins, wetlands, grasslands, woodland and more traditional horticultural park landscapes.

    Flagship Species indicators of bio-diversity found along the Wandle are:

    Sticklebacks Three-spined stickleback:(Gasterosteus aculeatus)

    Ten-spined stickleback: (Pungitius pungitius)

    The three spined stickleback is one of the most familiar fish of Britain’s freshwater

    Streams and ponds

    Watercress (Rorippa nasturtiumaquaticum) -A native species – watercress was grown commercially alongside the Wandle well into the last century.

    Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) – Historical population decline but now recovering. Vulnerable to habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses.

    Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) – Often seen along the Wandle and more colourful than its name suggests with a distinctive yellow breast and under-tail.

    Water vole Arvicola terrestris – It is suggested that this species no longer inhabits Sutton’s waterway however a London wide project seeks to reintroduce this charismatic mammal and specifically the Wandle Valley project in Poulter Park has aimed to do this.

     

  • Wandle Catchment Plan

    The Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust work closely with the Wandle Trust/South East Rivers Trust as one of the main partners in the Regional Park charged with the delivery of river restoration, rehabilitation and community focused work around the River Wandle.

    The overall aim of the Wandle Catchment Plan is for the River Wandle to be a naturally functioning and self-sustaining chalk stream rich in biodiversity and a haven for Londoners.

    At the heart of the Wandle Valley environment is the river Wandle itself.
    The Wandle is a well-loved river and many different organisations and local groups have been involved in restoring and enhancing it for several decades. This has resulted in its being declared one of England’s most improved rivers by the Environment Agency in 2011

    The European Union’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires our rivers to be ecologically healthy. Despite all the efforts to improve it, the River Wandle is currently failing its WFD target of ‘Good Ecological Potential’. This is because, although the river has improved significantly since the 1960s when it was declared ecologically dead, it still suffers from many impacts relating to its urban nature and industrialised past. This leaves it vulnerable to flood and pollution incidents, and it restricts fish movement and reduces biodiversity.
    To achieve ‘Good Ecological Potential’ the Wandle needs to be restored to as natural a state as possible, while taking into account the important services it provides people (eg drinking water and flood risk management). It also needs to be resilient to future pressures such as climate change and population increase. The river drains a relatively large area (known as its catchment) stretching approximately from the M25 on the North Downs to the Thames, and it is influenced by all the activities and land uses taking place within this area. We need to understand what all these influences are so that we can make reasonable recommendations to improve the river’s condition.
    We aim to achieve this with the Wandle Catchment Plan. It will draw together existing plans and information on the Wandle, using the knowledge of both local people and technical experts and thus be both locally relevant and underpinned by science. Our overall aims will be outlined in a Vision document and an accompanying Action Plan will contain technical details for delivering these aims.
    The Wandle Catchment Plan will complement other initiatives within the catchment, in particular the Wandle Valley Regional Park, so that we can implement best practice and together secure a healthy future for the River Wandle.
    The Catchment Plan is led by The Wandle Trust, an environmental charity dedicated to restoring and maintaining the health of the River Wandle and its catchment.
    The Wandle Trust aim to achieve the following for the Wandle, over the next 5 years and beyond:

    • Education:
    across the Wandle catchment, show children and adults the value of a healthy river, what it looks like, and how to achieve it

    • Engagement:
    across the Wandle catchment, involve and communicate with local people, to generate empowerment, ownership and sustainable community stewardship for the River Wandle

    • Ecosystem improvement:
    enhance and maximise the River Wandle’s habitats, biodiversity and ecological sustainability

    • Partnership and facilitation:
    form strong, sustainable partnerships with other strategic organisations concerned with the health of the River Wandle, and facilitate the achievement of our common goals

  • Birds

    The Wandle Valley has been reported as listing up to 104 species of birds in the river catchment, with over 250 species recorded in the Beddington Farmlands site and about 150 seen every year. Bedlington Farmlands is one of the best birdwatching sites in London, and is in the process of extensive restoration and will become a major nature reserve for the public in the heart of the Regional Park.

     

  • Winter birds on the Wandle

    • Mute swan
    • Canada Goose
    • Egyptian goose
    • Gadwall
    • Teal
    • Mallard
    • Shoveler
    • Pochard
    • Tufted Duck
    • Little Grebe
    • Cormorant
    • Little Egret
    • Grey Heron
    • Water Rail
    • Moorhen
    • Coot
    • Snipe
    • Redshank
    • Kingfisher
    • Grey Wagtail

     

  • Summer birds on the Wandle

    • Mute swan
    • Canada Goose
    • Mallard
    • Tufted Duck
    • Little Grebe
    • Grey Heron
    • Moorhen
    • Coot
    • Redshank
    • Kingfisher
    • Grey Wagtail
    • Pied Wagtail
    • Reed Wagtail
    • Reed Wabler
    • Reed Bunting

     

    To find out more see

    Projects,

    Get Involved, and

    Partners pages

    Beddington Bird Watching by Peter Alfrey

     

The Wandle Valley has been reported as listing up to 104 species of birds in the river catchment, with over 250 species recorded in the Beddington Farmlands site and about 150 seen every year. Bedlington Farmlands is one of the best birdwatching sites in London, and is in the process of extensive restoration and will become a major nature reserve for the public in the heart of the Regional Park.