With the completion of the first major stage of improvement work, ponds and stream at the Isabella Plantation were officially re-opened on May 14.

The extensive work is part of the £1.5m Isabella Plantation Access Project, funded by BIG Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, The Royal Parks and a generous £120,000 grant from the SITA Trust. The Friends of Richmond Park also contributed £6,000 as part of its support of the wider Ponds and Streams project.

Peg’s Pond has been extended with pontoon decking included whilst all three ponds (Peg’s Pond, Still Pond and Thomson’s Pond) have been de-silted with reed-beds added to create additional habitats. The streams have been improved with the addition of waterfalls and flow diverters to create pooling and scouring to add further habitat value.

Later this year the Isabella Access project will deliver a range of further improvements including the upgrade of the Peg’s Pond disabled car park and approach road, a new accessible gate at Peg’s Pond entrance, a new fully accessible toilet block and shelter, and the resurfacing and upgrade of the existing path network to include signage and improved seating.

Work started on site in early 2012 and will finish in summer 2014. Many improvements are already taking shape with the modernisation of the Plantation’s existing toilet block, making it accessible for all users, and the removal of considerable areas of Rhododendron Ponticum, an invasive non-native plant, allowing more light throughout the Plantation.

In addition to physical improvements to the site, the project’s Partnership and Community Engagement Officer has been working with community groups, schools and charities to develop a range of activities and resources associated with the Plantation and to celebrate its 60th birthday this year.

Jo Scrivener, Richmond Park’s Assistant Park Manager, said: “I am very happy to see such progress at Isabella Plantation and to have another stage in the project complete. The ponds and streams form a major part of the Plantation and their renovation will provide essential habitat for birds, insects and amphibians.

“The Isabella Plantation is one of the most visited attractions in Richmond Park and it is hoped that the improvements made from the project will encourage education and community activities and be enjoyed by park visitors for decades to come.”

For more information visit The Royal Parks website.