Wildlife, Conservation and Environment

The nature conservation value of the Colne Valley is one of its greatest assets enjoyed by many visitors to the area. The richness and diversity of wildlife habitats found in the Colne Valley result from the variety of underlying geology and soils, varied land uses, social and economic factors.


A tenth of the Colne Valley has been recognised as significant for nature conservation or geological interest by designation as Natural Nature Reserve (NNR), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Local Nature Reserve (LNR) or Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS). These sites include ancient woodland, chalk grassland, marsh and open water.


Small areas of water meadows survive and are home to damp-loving plants such as meadowsweet and purple loostrife. Along the river banks you can also find common reed, flowering rush and nodding burmarigold. Dragonflies and damselflies are common in many of these wet areas.


Hedgerows are also a good place to look for many of the formerly common farmland plants such as poppy and meadow crane bill.


Small areas of chalk grassland are still present south of Rickmansworth and there are areas of lowland heath at Black Park Country Park.



One of the main wildlife attractions to the Colne Valley are the birds. They are often easy to observe on the many lakes particularly in the winter months when there can be nationally significant numbers of tufted duck, pochard and shoveler. During cold spells rarer species including red-necked grebe and great northern diver may visit the area. Also in the winter large flocks of lapwings and geese congregate in the fields, with redwings and fieldfares searching the hedgerows for berries.


There are many kinds of mammals to be found in the Colne Valley but many are very difficult to see. Among those you are more likely to see are rabbits and squirrels, but if you are lucky you may see a fox, muntjac deer, bats, mice or voles.


Throughout the year there is always a variety of wildlife to see around the Colne Valley. The Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust have produced a series of factsheets on some of the best sites to watch wildlife in the Colne Valley Park, click here to download : Reserve Fact Sheets