Work in Sheldon Country Park to re-naturalise the brook and bring wildlife back to the meadows and woodland
- 2 weirs removed
- 5 brushwood mattresses installed
- Gravel introduced
- Wet woodland habitat restored
- Woodland creation management
- Annual meadow restoration creation
Some years ago, the idea of removing the weirs was only a pipe dream even though the advantages of such actions were known to us all.
Volunteers from the Waterside Care Group
Watercourses are best thought of as a force that carries and sustains life. Over time, free-flowing water has been blocked barriers-some with a purpose that’s no longer clear. These barriers strip waterways of their energy and ability to transport gravels and nutrients further downstream. Species that use the stream’s velocity to float downstream, now dwell in slow-moving water. Nooks and crevices offering refuge have become drowned and straightened out. This has been the case at Hatchford Brook.
Τhe upstream section of the Hatchford Brook was moved and straightened in the past, and the watercourse had become unsuitable for many wildlife species. Overwide, over deep with steep vertical banks and a flat bed, the shape of the channel made it difficult for wildlife to settle in. Two disused weirs, and a woodland left unmanaged for 40 years offered a green but unattractive space to wildlife. To inject more life into this urban park, this Capital Works project envisioned a more diverse and connected habitat including safe public access to the previously overgrown watercourse.
Following two projects further upstream, it was time to restore the Hatchford Brook to its former glory – a babbling stream bursting with life. A key part of the work focused on making the water flow more naturally connecting habitat for aquatic species. We removed the two weirs, reshaped river banks to create a greater variety of features, replaced long lengths of nettle-covered banks with a shallower, meandering slope, and introduced gravel to enhance and create riffle beds attracting a range of species.
Beyond the brook, we created a new wetland area to attract invertebrates and birds feeding off them including a diversified woodland to make space for smaller trees to grow and attract different species.
The Environment Agency approached us in February 2020 to investigate the removal of the two weirs and the restoration of the surrounding habitat. In July 2020, the concept was designed. A year later, funding was confirmed and the project was designed in more detail. Funding for the project came jointly from the Environment Agency and the European Regional Development Fund. Working with both the council and local Waterside Care groups we ensured that the green space was easy to manage and could be enjoyed by park visitors
Before the works, it has been impossible to see or even hear the water-now the brook is visible and audible. Also, fish are now able to migrate along the whole of the brook within the park-a few brave souls were already spotted shortly after we removed the weir! In more scientific terms, we expect a boost in biodiversity and will monitor invertebrates indicative of water quality. Now that the views are improved, and the access is easier, we also hope that people will notice the water quality, and if they see any pollution, they can ring the EA pollution hotline (tel 0800 80 70 60).
What the future holds
The Trent Rivers Trust is looking to expand its project portfolio in urban settings. Urban rivers are under pressure, often heavily modified and at risk of diffuse and point-source pollution. Projects such as our work in Hatchford Brook can, therefore, produce high-impact results and not only create a refuge for urban wildlife but also the well-being of local people. To build on the impact of our work, we are developing a comprehensive management plan and will continue to monitor water quality.
News for Spring 2022
Work continues to enhance the environment at Sheldon. Trent Rivers Trust is soon to undertake some management works to the woodland just north of the Coventry Road. This woodland has not been managed for over forty years.
Work will also be happening on some of the grassland; we will be introducing wildflowers that will be of benefit to birds, insects, and butterflies. They will also be attractive to look at, when in flower.
If you have any enquires about the work please email us at email@example.com