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220 tonnes of gravel restores river bed of Staffordshire Mease

Trent Rivers Trust is providing a lifeline for freshwater species in national decline by reintroducing 220 tonnes of gravel to improve water quality and habitat in the protected River Mease. The work to enhance a 0.5 km long stretch will provide valuable spawning grounds, habitat, and oxygenating riffles for species, including the white-clawed crayfish, Bullhead and Spined Loach – which can only be found in a handful of English rivers.

With the introduction of the gravel, re-profiled banks and new wetland areas, the Environment Agency-funded project aims to create a more varied habitat, contributing to a climate-proof river system. Cool and slow flowing water in the woodland provide refuge, while gravel beds and reprofiled bends create variations in flow and depth. These enable self-cleaning mechanisms and create new habitat mosaics within the river.

Currently, the Mease is not in a good ecological condition, partially due to high levels of phosphates from sewage discharge and diffuse pollution. Habitat modifications in the river combined with poor water quality leave wildlife vulnerable, particularly as more extreme weather conditions are already affecting rivers.
Like in many other rivers in England, the Mease has seen dramatic changes. The river originally meandered on a gravel bed and frequently spilled onto a floodplain. Historic modifications prevented these natural processes in many areas, and projects like this are restoring those important river features.

Ruth Needham, Head of Landscapes and Partnerships, says:

Our work on this stretch in the Mease is about creating a legacy for wildlife and people. By restoring habitat in and around the river, we’re reducing flood risk, improving water quality and providing a range of habitats. Looking at the work that has already taken place, we can already see a more varied habitat and a community of residents and landowners who are keen to further enhance the river and adjacent woodland. It’s a great thing to see here in Edingale and across other locations here in the Mease catchment.

Vicki Liu, Catchment Coordinator for the Environment Agency, adds:

Restoring the lost riverbed, re-profiling the riverbanks and improving the wet woodland section will help mitigate the impacts of climate change and encourage the wildlife species and ecosystems to recover.

The work is part of a wider scheme adding to a total of 960 tonnes of gravel that have already been introduced to the river. Carefully developing relationships with farmers and communities have been key to the success of the comprehensive restoration and recovery programme on the river. As enabling those who live alongside the river, to collaboratively make a difference continues to drive the recovery of the Mease and its tributaries.

Emma Smail, Landscape Recovery Manager, Trent Rivers Trust says:

The positive support and engagement we have from local farmers who care deeply about this river, enables these capital works to take place to make habitat improvements, which is also complemented through the wider catchment project to reduce pollution and make positive impacts through land management.

Vicki Liu, Catchment Coordinator, Environment Agency adds:

We’re working in partnership with Trent Rivers Trust on this exciting project to improve water quality and habitat in the protected River Mease in Staffordshire. This Environment Agency funded project is part of the second stage of works to bring environmental improvements to the Mease and, once complete, will create a more varied habitat for wildlife and be of great benefit for the river system.

ENDS

220 tonnes of gravel restores river bed of Staffordshire Mease

About Trent Rivers Trust

Established in 2001, the Trent Rivers Trust has been delivering over 250 projects within the Trent catchment. Our work involves practical conservation projects including flood reduction management and river restoration projects. Working in and on the river, we use proven nature-based solutions to improve the health of our rivers which is closely linked to the people and wildlife that depend on them. Through volunteering and education, we help build nature connection for schools and local residents.

River Mease Partnership

The River Mease Partnership includes individuals, farmers, agencies and local authorities that are working together to protect and improve the River Mease SSSI and SAC. The partnerships’ main aim is to reduce the levels of phosphate within the River Mease SSSI /SAC through positive action to enable the Conservation Objectives for this Special Area of Conservation to be met.

Environment Agency

Environment Agency funding for the project is through the Environmental Statutory Allowance (ESA) funding used to mitigate environmental impacts caused by historic flood risk activity. The River Mease Restoration Project which is a partnership between the Environment Agency and the Trent Rivers Trust is now in its fourth year, and second stage of works to bring improvement to the Mease.

Catchment Based Approach (CaBA)

The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) is an inclusive, civil society-led initiative that works in partnership with government, local authorities, water companies, businesses and more, to maximise the natural value of our environment.

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