The River Wissey, like most of Norfolk rivers, has been modified over the centuries, leading to a reduction in wildlife value and ultimately an increased flood risk in downstream villages.
The stretch targeted for this project lies within the STANTA military training ground, which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and managed by a local fishing club. Some stretches within this section of river have a natural, undamaged channel form, excellent flow diversity and good connectivity with the floodplain, whilst others have been modified, removing these natural processes and damaging the habitat for the river’s wildlife.
In September 2015, Norfolk Rivers Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency, began a two week project over 3 miles of the river downstream of Bodney. Trees from the surrounding banks were cut and pinned within the riverbank with the aim of managing silt loads, scouring gravel beds, creating pools, forming wildlife refuges and improving flow diversity. Additionally, bankside re-modelling techniques were utilised within certain sections to help aid natural processes and floodplains blocked by soil mounds were reconnected.
On completion of the project, changes in flow diversity are already noticeable, localised pools can be seen forming, gravels beds have cleared at various points, and the river can be seen breaking into its re-connected floodplains on high waters.
Norfolk Rivers Trust will monitor the stretch over the next three years to determine the influence of the work on fish, invertebrate and plant communities