Posted Friday 14 March 2014
Kingston University students, staff and local residents are joining forces to help transform the banks of the Hogsmill River next to the University's Knights Park campus.
More than 20 hard-working volunteers have already spent two days putting timber stakes into the river bed to start deflecting the river's flow. In its largest biodiversity volunteer project to date, the University is working with the South East Rivers Trust and The Environment Agency to maximise the ecological potential of this stretch of the river.
Rachel Burgess, biodiversity and landscape administrator at the University said Kingston staff and students had forged a close connection to the river. "Artists and designers have taken creative inspiration from the Hogsmill and our science students have monitored its flow as part of their coursework," she said. "Lots of people have volunteered their time to remove litter and invasive plants and take part in the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) eel monitoring survey. Now, with the help of volunteers, the plan is to create new areas of riverbank."
This section of the river had been heavily engineered in the past and was currently flanked by concrete so lacked a natural meandering form, Miss Burgess said. "The river we see today is uninviting and offers little in the way of habitat for wildlife. It desperately needs an injection of life and love. Although a great start has been made, there is still some way to go and for the next stage of the project, volunteers will install a framework of more woody debris and create banks of gravel to narrow the river."
Local Resident Helen Smith, who lives in Portland Road, said it was a great opportunity to be involved in a very worthwhile project so close to home. "The volunteer team of students and local people are very friendly and everyone gets the chance to learn some new skills," she added. "I walk or cycle by the Hogsmill most days and the idea of helping to improve the environment, as well as creating a more interesting and diverse riverscape, is very exciting."
Once all of the planting on the new bank was established, the River would look dramatically different in this highly visible location, Miss Burgess explained. "The University hopes this local waterway will become a haven for birds, insects and a variety of animals as well as a sight to admire for all those who live, study and work nearby," she said.
There is still time to get involved by signing up for one of the remaining volunteer events. On Wednesday 2 April they will be planting up the newly created riverbank.
All instructions and equipment will be provided, along with lunch. Anyone interested in taking part should email firstname.lastname@example.org.