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Transforming Cassiobury Watercress Beds

Impact data and claims within this report are provided by the project creator and have not been independently verified by Spacehive.

Transforming Cassiobury Watercress Beds

Transforming Cassiobury Watercress Beds

Friends of Cassiobury Park By Friends of Cassiobury Park

We plan to convert unused and neglected watercress beds into a wetland haven for wildlife. Our aim is to restore the beds for wildlife and biodiversity and make them inspiring for park visitors.

Watford Idea stage

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With their chalk and gravel base, the beds are a special place for wildlife and biodiversity. They ceased commercial use in the 70s and then attracted a range of wetland birds such as snipe and green sandpiper as well as kingfisher, dragonflies and fresh water shrimps. In the 80s the main bed, which is over 2 acres, was fenced off as a nature reserve, with a hide and access. Sadly, the area slowly declined, with only remnants now visible. The beds are silted up, the inlet from the river Gade is blocked, as is the exit back into the river. The result is that the area is now mainly dry and unattractive to wading birds and other species. It is also being over-run by Himalayan balsam and is no longer a part of the flood plain. This leads to increased flooding elsewhere. Our project is to clear the inlet and outlet channels and sections of the bed. This will restore the area for nature as well as being a magical and educational experience for park visitors and school trips.

What we'll deliver:

  • Re-opening the river inlet and the main feeder channel
  • De-silting as many bed sections as funds allow
  • Re-opening the exit into the river
  • Re-cycling soil and silt to make natural barriers and viewing areas
  • Building viewing screens

Why it's a great idea:

We plan to recover the area as a significant part of the nature reserve by re-opening the river inlet, removing silt from the beds themselves and clearing the flow channel and exit into the river. The area will not become a functioning watercress bed again but will: • Enable the return of wildlife that has been absent for some years and thereby increase biodiversity; • Provide a stimulating addition to the educational and observational aspects of the reserve and park; • Restore part of the flood plain that has been missing for some time; • Re-use the silt and soil removed to form natural barriers to the area, between which there will be viewing screens. This is an opportunity for Veolia and others who wish to support an increase in wild green spaces, to make a significant contribution to enhancing a unique nature reserve, contributing to biodiversity in a Green Flag park and stimulating the interest of park visitors in wetland wildlife

Steps to get it done:

  • Formal go-ahead from Watford Council
  • Removal of fallen trees
  • Selection of contractor for removing silt from main channels and selected beds
  • Removal of silt from main beds
  • Volunteer clearance of vegetation
  • Construction of viewing screens

In 2018, as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project, the Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust produced a design and specification for the work as well as a maintenance plan. This enabled Watford Borough Council (WBC) to submit an application for a permit to the Environment Agency and this was issued in 2019. Since then ecological surveys of important species such as Great-crested newt have taken place and old fencing has been removed. Although further funding may be available from WBC, because of the pandemic, this is uncertain. As Friends of Cassiobury Park, with over 300 members, we initiated this exciting project and are now seeking funding for the first major step, the all-important clearance of the inlet and outlet channels and a small number of the main beds. This is a relatively straight forward and limited first stage approach that will make a significant contribution to the overall aim, will include volunteer effort and will require less funding than the complete wetland project.

Location Watford

About the space

An area of approximately 2 acres within the Local Nature Reserve in Cassiobury Park


Watford Borough Council

How will the money be spent?Total £10,947

'Digger' company to remove silt - £8,000 (73%)
Specialist advice on work - £2,000 (18%)
Other - £947 (9%)

Costs Breakdown

This shows how money raised for the project will be spent. Before entering fundraising these costs will be confirmed by the project's Delivery Manager and verified by the verifier.

'Digger' company to remove silt
Specialist advice on work
Other Read More
  • Spacehive fees
  • Transaction Fees
  • VAT


This project is enabled for overfunding. If the project hits its funding goal before the end of the campaign period, any extra funds raised will be spent (in order of priority) on:

  • Increase the number of beds transformed
  • Deliver more of the overall wetlands project for the park
  • Provide signage and visitor interpretation

Total £10,947

Our Volunteer List

We're currently looking for people to offer skills and time to develop our project! Check out the list of what we need below and then use the 'Volunteer' button to the right to get involved.

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