Rewilding the Rom

The River Rom

The River Rom is a tributary of the River Thames and forms the boundary between the east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and Havering.

Like many of London’s rivers, the Rom has suffered in recent years. Water quality has been impacted by sewage misconnections and overflows, whilst habitats for wildlife have been damaged by dredging and straightening of the river channel.

The downstream reach of the River Rom (also known as the River Beam) flows through the eastern section of The Chase Local Nature Reserve (LNR). The Chase LNR incorporates nearly 50 hectares of meadows, ponds, marshes and woodlands and has been designated as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.

Why are floodplains important?

Floodplains are one of the UK’s most neglected habitats. In their natural state, floodplains support a wide range of aquatic and semi-aquatic species, help to fight climate change by locking carbon in their rich wet meadow areas and protect downstream communities by holding back floodwaters. But 90% of England’s floodplains can no longer do this because they have been disconnected from their river channels by urbanisation and artificial flood embankments. This is true of the River Rom through the Chase LRN, where the disconnected floodplain is not supporting the range of animals and plants it could otherwise provide a home for should it be allowed to safely flood.

Restoring the River Rom’s floodplain through the Chase Local Nature Reserve

In 2021, funding from the Land of the Fanns Partnership Scheme allowed two seasonal wetlands (known as scrapes) to be dug on the Havering Side of the River Rom. These scrapes trap water on the floodplain during times of heavy rain and act as important habitats for wetland plants, birds, and other animals.

Before and after images of the wetlands created on the Havering bank of the River Rom at The Chase LNR

In 2022, thanks to funding from the Kusuma Trust, the Mayor of London’s Rewild London Fund, and Essex and Suffolk Water, Thames21 will be working in partnership with The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to further reconnect the River Rom with its floodplain, this time on the opposite bank. To do this, we will breach a large flood embankment in three places and dig out three interconnected wetlands. In high flows, the river will flood into this newly connected area of floodplain, creating an area of seasonal wetlands, rich in wildlife including frogs, newts, dragonflies and water birds.

Designs showing the planned wetland and floodplain reconnection work on the Barking and Dagenham side of the River Rom at The Chase LNR

The Kusuma Trust will fund community volunteering days so that local communities can get hands-on with conservation and learn about their newly restored nature reserve, and new interpretation signboards to enable all visitors to understand this restored landscape and its wildlife. Funding from the Mayor of London will enable Barking and Dagenham to clear the invasive plant species New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) which has spread across the Slack Bird Sanctuary, an important area for feeding wetland birds situated within the Chase LNR. The main aspects of this work will be completed by the end of 2022.

Aerial footage showing the floodplain reconnection work in progress


Thames 21 led on the project, supported by Thames Chase (this project started with the Land of the Fanns) and was developed on Barking and Dagenham land.

The project was also supported by the Roding, Beam and Ingrebourne Catchment Partnership, Environment Agency, Havering Council and Havering Wildlife Project.

The project was funded by Essex & Suffolk Water, Environment Agency, Thames Water, Kusuma Trust, and the Mayor’s Rewild London Fund.

This project is one of a number of significant water improvement projects being developed and delivered within the Roding, Beam and Ingrebourne Catchment. To learn more about the RBI Catchment and what is being done to improve it, click here, or follow us on twitter @RBICP.

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We would like to thank all of our partners and sponsors for all their support.