Help clean up your local reservoir for wildlife
My name is Laura Mullholland, an Ecologist for the Canal & River Trust. Our charity is here to make life better by water. And that’s exactly what I need your help to do today at the Welsh Harp. Please help us clean up and revive your local reservoir.
As well as caring for over 2,000-miles of canals across England and Wales, our charity maintains over 70 reservoirs that are an integral part of our waterways, including the Welsh Harp, also known as Brent Reservoir.
Local people will tell you this is an amazing and rare oasis of open water in the heart of the capital. Framed by Wembley’s famous arch, it’s where many Londoners come to find peace, calm and a connection with nature. When so much of our wildlife is threatened, and quiet places to boost our wellbeing are so hard to find in the city, green spaces like the Welsh Harp are vitally important for nature and people.
For wildlife lovers, the reservoir is an exciting urban home to great crested grebes, little grebes, mute swans, ducks and coots. We even have common terns nesting here on the floating rafts. It is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a special designation that recognises the scientific value of the rich diversity of wildlife found on site, including the amazing array of wonderful water birds and 16 protected plant species. This all makes the Welsh Harp one of the most important wildlife sites in London.
Sadly, however, local wildlife and people are fighting a constant battle against plastic pollution and fly-tipping. Over the years our reservoir has filled with rubbish, threatening the health of water birds and all the wildlife that makes it home here. But now we have a unique, and unmissable opportunity to clear up the reservoir for both nature and people alike.
We need your help to raise £15,000 to clear the rubbish from the reservoir while it is fully drained for essential maintenance work. We must deliver the vital works over the winter, to avoid disturbing the water birds during the spring breeding season.
Your support will immediately enable us to get our contractors to safely remove debris that threatens the area’s Reservoir and the beauty of the Welsh Harp for our visitors. As the reservoir refills, your donations could fund new tern rafts for the safe nesting of terns and other waterbirds. Please donate today to make this vital work happen.
Please help to restore the beauty and tranquillity of the Welsh Harp (Photo: Kent Wang)
Where is the Welsh Harp Reservoir?
Sitting between the M1 and Wembley Stadium, the reservoir takes its name from its shape, which suggests the outline of a Welsh Harp. It was built in 1835 to keep the Regents and Grand Union canals in water and soon became a popular leisure destination for Victorian Londoners, a role it continues to perform to this day.
What do we want to do?
The problem with rubbish was first revealed in January 2021 when we partially drained the reservoir to inspect the dam and Valve House Tower. The debris caused great concern for the local community, including Friends of the Welsh Harp, who organise regular litter picks. Back then, with help from our local community volunteers, we removed plastics and debris by boat and 1,398 tyres that were fly-tipped in woodland beside the water.
Our charity has already disposed of 1300 fly-tipped tyres
Now, an even more thorough clean-up is needed. With your help today, this is our chance to do it. Draining the reservoir will give us a short 12-week window to remove rubbish. We can’t miss this chance. The £15,000 you help us raise will:
- Help us secure specialist equipment and machinery to remove debris safely on the reservoir. This is potentially dangerous work, and we need to make sure the rubbish is recycled or disposed of in a safe, sustainable way.
- Clean up the fly-tipped and litter-strewn areas around the reservoir, ensuring a safer and cleaner experience for people and nature to enjoy.
- Support the installation of tern rafts to offer safe nesting spaces for birds like terns, contributing to the flourishing avian habitat while enhancing the reservoir's ecological balance.
Why is the Welsh Harp so important?
The Welsh Harp Reservoir is one of London’s most significant urban wild places - an essential haven for wildlife and local people to enjoy. If you’ve spent time here, you’ll know just what a magical and peaceful place it is. But if you haven’t, let me share it with you.
The standing open water is bordered by a rich habitat of trees, especially wet woodland. This, and the surrounding fen and marsh, support a wonderfully diverse variety of wildlife, including, water birds such as little grebes, great crested grebes, willow warblers and raptors like sparrowhawks, peregrine falcons and kestrels.
The wetland areas themselves support a wealth of plants, including 16 protected species such as lesser pond sedge, water forget-me-nots, branched bur-weed, marsh woundwort, water plantain, flowering rush, water dock and lesser reedmace.
There are few wetlands like this in London and across the country, so it’s vital to protect those we have left, managing them carefully for threatened wildlife,
As well as being important for nature, the Welsh Harp is hugely important for the wellbeing of everyone who uses this beautiful place. Situated in the built-up London boroughs of Barnet and Brent, there are few other places like this nearby where people can interact with nature. It’s a much-loved, relaxing place to get away from the stresses of daily life, walk the dog or take some exercise. People use the reservoir to run, cycle, play football and a host of other sports. Over 40,000 people every year use the reservoir to sail, paddleboard and canoe.
The reservoir is an important site for environmental education and is well used by local schools, and community groups to learn more about nature. The waiting list for the allotments on site is huge, showing how vital this green space is to the local community. The clearance of rubbish can ensure that everyone continues to enjoy their leisure time at the reservoir.
The sailing clubs on the Welsh Harp are extremely popular
The Canal & River Trust is part of the Welsh Harp Strategy Group, a coalition of interested councils and conservation groups. After extensive consultation with local people, we recently released a new Vision for the reservoir and surrounding area, setting out all the changes we all want to see. Together, our aim is to enhance the site for wildlife and people for generations to come.
How will your gift help?
With your donation, we can create a healthier Welsh Harp Reservoir for both wildlife and local people.
- £20 - Could help to enhance water quality, benefiting the reservoir's fragile ecosystem and 16 protected plant species by eliminating as much debris as possible resulting from fly-tipping and littering, fostering a healthier environment for all.
- £50 - Could help provide our specialist team with the necessary tools to remove plastics and debris, helping to clean up the area after the dewatering.
- £100 - Could contribute to the operational costs of the essential specialised machinery used in our cleaning-up tasks. This support ensures efficient debris removal and a cleaner, healthier environment for Brent Reservoir and its diverse wildlife.
- £500 – Could aid in the installation and maintenance of tern rafts to create a safe nesting space for terns and other waterbirds, enhancing the local bird population and overall biodiversity of the reservoir.