Lower Mole Partnership – news, updates and events

Reviving the Rye Brook in Ashtead

During October 2020, the Lower Mole Partnership started to undertake a three-year targeted restoration project comprising catchment enhancement work of the Rye Brook on Ashtead Common NNR (National Nature Reserve). A catchment is an area of land where water collects when it rains; as the water flows over the landscape, it finds its way into streams and down into the soil, eventually feeding the river itself.

Working with their hardy conservation volunteer crew they will be implementing a range of improvements to the Rye Brook itself and carrying out vegetation management alongside the Brook to enhance the area for biodiversity. Some impressive pollarding work has already been completed this autumn, notably by socially distanced small groups of regular volunteers, pre-booked in to come direct to site to help us when we have not been in lockdown.

This project forms part of the wider 'Rye to Good' Project, which aims to improve water quality and biodiversity, and sits within the wider River Mole Catchment Partnership. This three-year restoration project is supported by the City of London Corporation, through a grant awarded to the Lower Mole Countryside Trust, the registered charity partner of the Lower Mole Partnership.

Further along the Rye Brook, the Lower Mole Partnership also recently co-ordinated another fantastic partnership project, comprising the completion of a new wetland and bank regrading works in Kestrel Field, Ashtead. The scheme was designed by the River Mole Catchment Partnership, again as part of the Rye to Good Project.

The aim of these larger scale contractor works was to reconnect the Rye with the wider landscape once more by reducing the bank height and gradient and creating a shallow wetland in the floodplain to provide a variety of habitat.

The Lower Mole Partnership began working at this site in 2015, clearing scrub from the riverbank to reveal the hidden Rye. The River Mole Catchment Partnership secured the funding to have designs drawn up for this 2020 larger scale wetland scheme and the project was supported by the Environment Agency and Mole Valley District Council, plus a contribution from the Lower Mole Countryside Trust.

Importantly this work is not in isolation, as just upstream in Ashtead Rye Meadows there is another wetland that was created alongside the Rye a few years ago and further schemes are being designed in partnership elsewhere along the Rye, to help it achieve good potential, for biodiversity and wildlife.

Help us to monitor the water quality of the Mole and Hogsmill rivers

These two schemes are part of the Catchment Partnerships initiative, which was established to coordinate activity in the respective river basins. Both schemes offer training in order to fulfil the voluntary role.

The RiverWatch scheme on the Mole is always looking for more volunteers to regularly walk an assigned section of the river to report on species seen and notable features, as well as more detailed surveys for interested volunteers. Monitoring the River Mole is being coordinated by Surrey Wildlife Trust, under a scheme called RiverWatch, please contact glen.skelton@surreywt.org.uk for more information.

The scheme on the Hogsmill River involves sampling the invertebrates present six times a year at a set location. Monitoring the Hogsmill River is being coordinated by the Zoological Society for London, via a scheme called the River Monitoring Initiative. Please contact us at mole.project@surreycc.gov.uk for further information.

Living Woodlands

This exciting and innovative project, which aims to support the sustainable management of local woodlands for the benefit of nature conservation continues to grow, even though the Heritage Lottery funding gained to establish the project has since finished.

The Lower Mole Partnership continues to work with landowners of local woodlands and traditional coppice workers, plus assists with maintaining infrastructures to enable targeted management to thrive.

Living Woodlands projects are now happening at several sites across the Partnership area: Sixty Acre Wood, Chessington; The Warren, Langley Vale; Watercut Copse, Oxshott; Butchers Grove, Horton Country Park and more.

Contact the Lower Mole Partnership team if you would like to find out more about Living Woodlands and all of our other Lower Mole Partnership local countryside management initiatives.

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