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Re Wilding our rivers at Trentham

19 October 2015

A project to restore a stretch of the River Trent to encourage it to ‘build habitat’ and provide safe areas for invertebrates and fish has been completed at Trentham.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust delivered the project with funding from The Trentham Estate, St. Modwen, Environment Agency, Staffordshire Trent Valley Catchment Partnership and Natural England.

This section of the River Trent has elevated river banks from historical modifications which have prevented natural connection with the wetland at Tags Marsh, and a modified channel which was lacking in habitats for wildlife.

The river has also been subject to episodes of poor water quality from the upstream urban catchment and recent monitoring data has shown this section of the River Trent is failing UK environmental standards for phosphate levels and has a poor diversity of invertebrates and fish.

Nick Mott, Senior Freshwater Ecologist for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “This type of work is crucial to help breathe life back into our damaged river environments. These river re-wilding techniques have also been carried out at a number of other sites along the Trent and its tributaries over the past 20 years.

“Re-profiling helps kick-start the river’s natural processes and encourages new habitats, such as gravel shoals, riffles, eddies, backwaters and scour pools, to form in the channel and along its margins.

“We also lowered part of the adjacent floodplain to provide conditions for the growth of riverine woodland. It will be an infinitely better place for people to enjoy the river and its wildlife.

“Furthermore, the scheme will hold additional flood water at the site, taking pressure off downstream settlements such as Stone.”

Michael Walker, Head of Garden and Estate at Trentham, said: “Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, through Nick Mott, has successfully enhanced the wetlands which were once integral to the historic route of the River Trent.

“The work undertaken will see considerable benefit to the local wildlife, ecology and management of the river corridor itself, making this a truly benchmarking project which has been made possible by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s unique expertise and knowledge of the area.

“Working with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is part of The Trentham Estate’s commitment to enhancing the ecological and landscape management of this important landscape and the Estate Maintenance team, led by Greg Williamson, have put in an immense amount of effort to ensure its delivery.

“It demonstrates Trentham and St. Modwen’s belief in the continued revitalisation of the important and historical landscape at The Trentham Estate.”

Matthew Lawrence, Catchment Co-ordinator at the Environment Agency, said: “The River Trent in Stoke now supports good populations of fish including native brown trout.

“Projects such as this help further improve habitats for river life.”

Rebecca Butters, from Natural England’s North Mercia Area Team, said: “The wetland at Tags Marsh had been identified for improvement under Trentham Estate’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme with Natural England, the aim being to enhance and manage the wetland features.

“The river re-profiling work will allow the river to connect more naturally with the wetland and with the addition of scrapes will enhance the habitat and increase the diversity of wetland invertebrates, breeding and wintering birds.”

The work was completed to an extremely high standard by Mark Stubbs Contracting.

Notes

  1. 1. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, is the leading nature conservation body in the County. It protects and enhances our wildlife and wild places and promotes involvement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural world.  With the support of over 15,000 members, it manages 26 sites covering over 3,400 acres including sites of international, European and national importance. As part of The Wildlife Trusts, the Trust is the local face of the largest organisation in the UK concerned with the conservation of all forms of wildlife.

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