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Guest post from Elliot Newton of the Environment Trust - Berrylands Project Update

Rather ominous grey clouds hung above Berrylands’ Nature Reserve on the 28th of April, however the rain only amounted to a few drips as we unloaded my rather over laden car in preparation for a conservation day that hoped to attract local volunteers.

Boot of a car fully loaded with conservation gear
Elliot's overloaded car

As a prehistoric looking heron flew low over the scout’s hut, blending in with greyish clouds a cheerful army of volunteers descended on this hidden away nature reserve, ready to get involved with conservation volunteering! Helping to restore this greenspace and transform it into a haven for wildlife and a true community asset.

It was incredible to see 70 volunteers attend throughout the day, with people from the local community joining forces with our Duke of Edinburgh volunteers to take on a range of different task.

A large crowd of people standing in the river
All the volunteers in the river preparing for a day of river improvement work

One task was to continue the installations of woody deflectors in the middle part of the site, continuing the work that the volunteers achieved on the previous Wednesday. These large logs help to increase the diversity of the flow within the stream, providing more habitat for fish and invertebrates. We also barrowed more gravel into the river, which improves the riverbed habitat for various species to live in. The gravel also reinforced the recently installed berms, which strengthens the hazel fagots and reduces the chances of litter collect on them.

A muddy day by the river as the volunteers muck in.
Getting down to business improving the river.

We also had a team of volunteers searching for invasive Himalayan Balsam which is now starting to emerge from the river banks. It is great to catch these fast-growing plants early, to pull them out of the ground; working to reduce their dominance before they begin to seed. We will work to combat this highly invasive species over the coming weeks and months!

Two people searching amongst scrub for Himalayan balsam
Searching for Himalayan Balsam along the river bank

As per usual a team armed with litter pickers, thoroughly searched the site hunting down the litter which still builds up at a shocking rate.

The last task was too help plant a section with marginal aquatic plants, including marsh marigold and other native species.

Throughout the day we also had Tim, Tom and Garry from Zest productions, filming the days events. This was the start of filming for our Kingston nature documentary which we hope will inspire even more volunteers to get involved with conserving and enhancing our local biodiversity.

Group of volunteers around a wheelbarrow.
Volunteers at the Raeburn Open Space

I would like to thank all who helped throughout the day including Ben from Aquamaintain, Tom, Andrew, Warren and Mark for helping to lead specific volunteer tasks as well as my Mum for helping out too!

If you would like to get more involved please do get in contact, or come down to our next volunteering session on the 16th of May!

Elliot Newton

Find out more about the Environment Trust and all their activities in Kingston at their website: Environment Trust

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