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Re-naturalising the Wissey near Bodney

Re-naturalising the Wissey

The River Wissey, like most of Norfolk’s rivers, has been modified over the centuries. This has led to a reduction in its value to wildlife and an increased flood risk in downstream villages.

The stretch of river targeted for this project lies within the STANTA military training ground. This site is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and is managed by a local fishing club. In places, the stretch is comprised of a natural and undamaged channel form, with excellent flow diversity and good connectivity with the floodplain. However, other parts of the stretch have been modified, and natural features have been removed. This has led to a degraded habitat state for the river’s remaining wildlife.

In September 2015, Norfolk Rivers Trust began a two-week restoration project in partnership with the Environment Agency, downstream of Bodney. Covering over 3 miles of the Wissey, trees from the surrounding banks were cut and pinned within the riverbank to manage silt loads and to scour gravel beds. Additionally, bankside re-modelling techniques were utilised within certain sections of the Wissey to aid natural processes and to reconnect floodplains that were blocked by soil mounds.

Excavator

Excavator reconnecting floodplain

Floodplain

Floodplain meadow

On completion of the project, changes in flow diversity were immediate. Localised deep pools were beginning to form, gravel beds were starting to clear at various points, and the river had started to spill onto its reconnected floodplain during high waters.

We will continue to monitor this restored stretch of river over the next three years to determine the impact on fish, invertebrate and plant communities.

Flow

Flow variation around newly placed woody debris

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