QWAG are constantly looking for opportunities to enhance the Quaggy’s ecosystem.
18 months ago preparation for the construction works on the final stages of the River Quaggy Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) were underway. An alert member of QWAG noticed that the wood from trees being cut down or pollarded along the river corridor were being taken away – and enquiries revealed that virtually all of it was to be removed and chipped. QWAG intervened and successfully argued that suitable sites should be found for the dead wood, creating not only a valuable habitat for many species, but an essential one for the stag beetle. The Quaggy has always had a healthy population of this globally endangered beetle.
This opportunity to enhance the river corridor – first reported in Dead wood makes a desirable home! (15th March 2005) – marked the beginning of QWAG’s “Logs for Stag Beetles” project. As a result a decison was made to store the wood locally and redistribute it at suitable places along the river corridor as the works progressed.
An illustration of logs and stumps as informal seating QWAG, in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) and Breheny (their sub-contractor for the works), set out to find suitable sites for the wood. Help was requested from local residents living along the river to make use of the logs and stumps as informal seating and architectural features – at the same time functioning as a habitat for beetles and other wildlife. QWAG would like to thank everyone who took up our offer over the following months.
From beetles to bird boxes
QWAG’s “Logs for Stag Beetles” project may seem insignificant in comparison with large scale restoration projects such as Chinbrook Meadows and Sutcliffe Park, where the Quaggy’s ecosystem has been improved out of all recognition. However, we have to be aware that there is fierce competition for the limited funds availabile for such capital intensive projects. While further restoration remains a longer term aspiration we must seize every opportunity to enhance the river corridor ecosystem wherever and whenever possible. For example, QWAG have recently persuaded the EA to substantially increase the number of kingfisher nesting boxes installed along the length of the FAS between Lee Green and Lewisham.
Restoration through redevelopment
One of the keys to improvement is to gain enhancements through the planning process when properties next to the channelised river are redeveloped. The ongoing works behind Nando’s restaurant in Lewisham – reported in this year’s newsletter – is an excellent example of what can be achieved.
These single storey shops along Lee High Road are likely to be redeveloped soon
QWAG’s task is to persuade developers of the opportunities they have to re-engineer the river, replacing an ugly liability with an attractive asset. We are always willing to meet potential developers and discuss how this can be achieved. However, we must also be prepared to protect the river if necessary by objecting vigourously to any proposals we feel would damage it or it’s future prospects for restoration.
While it’s the large scale restoration projects that grab the headlines and gain the plaudits, seizing the less high-profile opportunities to secure incremental improvements to the river corridor is likely to be just as important for the long term health of the Quaggy’s ecosystem.