The first of a series of river restoration works has happened at Stanwick Lakes. Led by River Nene Regional Park and supported by the Environment Agency, contractors removed a ‘plug’ of vegetation and sediment from the mouth of a backwater to re-connect it with the main river channel.
Although the removal of so much vegetation may look destructive, the newly formed reconnected water will provide a non-flowing water habitat. This gives fish a place to shelter during high flow periods and also provides some ideal spawning habitat with weeds and reedbeds at the far end of the backwater. Maintaining fish populations helps to support a number of other species in the river ecosystem. See an aerial image of the restoration site here.
Upstream, a similar backwater (not connected to the river channel at both ends) has been retained without ‘de-plugging’ to preserve its important habitat for aquatic birds, invertebrates and amphibians.
The decision of which area to restore and which to leave was based on how established each habitat was. The downstream backwater had more open water and fewer reeds and weeds to be cleared than the upstream area, which gives a bigger reedy area for sheltering birds.
The restored habitat will now be monitored so that the impact of the restoration can be measured.