The Reserve is basically a man-made wetland habitat consisting of two old gravel pits and a sludge settlement area formerly used by the nearby sewage treatment works. Some refuse dumping also occurred on part of the site and during the late 1950s and early 1960s an area in the east of the Reserve was planted with poplars.
From the early 1970s the site was largely undisturbed and developed naturally into mainly woodland and rank herb rich grassland. The larger of the two lakes, being quite shallow, began to dry out and was being rapidly colonized by herbaceous growth. This resulted in an overall decline in bird diversity at the site, in particular a decline in wading birds.
From 1972, the site which lies in the valley of the River Colne, was used as a bird ringing station. An average of 1500 birds from 50 species were ringed there annually. In 1980 work began, with the assistance of local volunteers and the British Trust for Conservation, to realize the considerable potential of the site as a nature reserve.
In 1982 the Maple Lodge Conservation Society was formed and in 1983 granted a license by Thames Water (the owners of the land) to manage the site on a day to day basis. In managing the site the aims are to preserve a diverse habitat and to create and maintain an enhanced open water and mud habitat.
In 2013 the Maple Lodge Conservation Society applied for and achieved charitable status and has been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1153157.
Work undertaken to date indicates that regular coppicing of willows increases the number of shrub-associated warblers and encourages wild flower growth. Clearing of waterside vegetation, together with water level manipulation (when feasible) maintains wader and wildfowl feeding conditions.
Today, thanks to the dedication of the committee, the work-partyanda number of volunteers and donations (gratefully received) the Reserve is in excellent condition and well worth a visit any time of the year to see birds, trees, flowers, animals, moths andother insects.
Check the Diary and Events page - we have two or three guided mid-week Walk & Talk sessions a year about the history of Maple Lodge.