Founded in 1972 to oppose the development of parts of this special environment for commercial and residential purposes, the Welsh Harp Conservation Group is dedicated to protecting and enhancing Brent Reservoir and its surrounding area as a haven for wildlife.
Membership and hide keys Membership of the WHCG is open to all. There is no annual membership fee, but a fee (currently £15) is charged for the purchase of a key that opens our two to the hides. Requests for membership (and keys) should be addressed to Roy Beddard (telephone 020 8447 1810). Income from the sale of keys supports the group’s conservation work.
Co-operation and conservation The WHCG works closely with the Canal and River Trust, which owns the reservoir, and the London Boroughs of Brent and Barnet, which own the surrounding land. It also has good relations with other organisations interested in preserving and improving the environment locally. The group also endeavours to protect the Welsh Harp area by protesting against proposals that may affect the environment, such as the recent unwelcome redevelopment of the West Hendon housing estate, which includes a tower block that now overshadows the reservoir’s northern arm.
Wildlife surveys Every month WHCG members report waterbird numbers as part of the national Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) organised by the British Trust for Ornithology. Members also regularly monitor butterflies as a contribution to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which has audited trends in butterfly populations since 1976. More recently we have begun regular surveys of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata).
Site management During the winter months the WHCG organises management work, including cutting back reeds and other vegetation, destroying invasive plant species such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed, uprooting tree saplings within the gorse patch, removing litter and maintaining the hides, viewing platforms and rafts.
Publications For many years the group has produced an annual report and in 2002 it published a book, Birds of Brent Reservoir: the natural history of the Welsh Harp, which includes studies of the area’s birds and other wildlife plus chapters on the area’s social history and the effects of urbanisation on the habitats. For further information, see the Publications page.
WHCG Trustees and Committee Members 2019–20
Vice President: Dr Leo Batten
Chairman: Roy Beddard
Treasurer: Patrick Hagglund
Secretary: Andrew Haynes
Andrew Verrall (deceased 20 November 2020)
The WHCG thanks the London Borough of Barnet for conservation management support and Leslie Williams and the London Borough of Brent Ranger Service.