Foots Cray Meadows river habitat enhancement programme continues apace

Thames21 River Cray Project officer Michael Heath writes:

Our plan to put the River Cray at Foots Cray Meadows back on the map as a premiere habitat for wildlife, and a natural and recreational feature for the local community, is now well underway. We are encouraging more people to join us and get involved with work to improve this much-modified stretch of the river, which will have multiple benefits.

Changes to the river over the years, including straightening parts of it, installing concrete culverts, and widening, have reduced its potential as wildlife habitat for key species and as a natural feature for people to enjoy. The project, which is expected to last until the summer of 2016 will seek to change this.

Funding is coming from The Veolia Environmental Trust, which has awarded a grant through the Landfill Communities Fund with additional support from The London Borough of Bexley, North West Kent Countryside Partnership and the Daily Mail and General Trust.

Improvements to the river will include ecological restoration of the river in line with the Water Framework Directive, by creating a more varied flow by building pools and shallows, modifying its depth and width and making it more natural and winding. This will be beneficial for aquatic invertebrates and fish.

Trampled and eroded banks will be improved by planting with species that will attract certain insects and other animals.

The project is also designed to inform and inspire local residents to protect and enhance it once this scheme is complete.

The scheme fits in with several ongoing initiatives concerning the river, led by the Cray Catchment Improvement Group.

Further workdays at this site will be taking place on:

13th, 20th and 28th August, 3rd, 11th, 17th and 25th September 2014.

Thames21 volunteers will be working with people from the North West Kent Countryside Partnership. We will be on site from 1000 to 1500 on each day, so do come along and find us. To get actively involved, meet at 0945 at the Leafield Lane Gate onto the Meadows, Leafield Lane DA14 5EB (Off the North Cray Road beside the old Scout Hut) .

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and to get involved with a friendly team in making long-lasting improvements to a high-profile local site.

We will also be holding a number of other events along the Cray during this period, to carry on with the work we do throughout the length of the river in the Borough of Bexley.

All Thames21 events in Bexley can be found at:

http://www.bexleywildlife.org/calendar/

To get involved or for more information, contact Michael Heath michael.heath@thames21.org.uk or ph: 07968 805751.

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