Bevern Restoration ProjectBackwater creation on the Bevern Stream
Working in partnership with the Environment Agency, the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust have completed the delivery of its backwater creation project on the Bevern Stream near Barcombe Mills. Having taken two years to obtain the relevant permissions, undertake background feasibility studies and set up the groundworks against the background of changing landowners half way through it is great news to be able to report the successful completion of the BRUCE project (Bevern Restoration of Upstream Catchment Enhancements).
Completed over six sunny days in May 2014 the project delivered two fish refuge/backwater areas and a floodplain scrape to provide habitat for wading birds. The excavations were undertaken by the Environment Agency Operations Delivery Team based in Seaford, overseen by Thames Valley Archaeological Services (who luckily didn’t find anything) and project managed by OART.
These new features are designed to provide refuge areas for coarse fish species during periods of high velocity flow, protecting them from being washed downstream, This works as the refuge area will fill up but remain a still water habitat whilst the main channel is fast flowing. In addition during periods of low flow within the channel these areas will provide a shallow, warm refuge for fish fry as well as a range of species such as dragonflies, beetles etc.
Although water levels were low throughout the groundwork stage of the project, Chubb (Squalius cephalus) were observed in the newly created mouth of the refuge areas. In addition dragonfly and damselfly species were observed on the broken, muddy surrounds. This was a great start and subsequently in both 2014 and early spring 2015 these backwaters were literally packed with fish fry showing that simple, low impact projects can make a big difference to habitat availability and potentially sustainable fish populations.
The clay banks of the backwaters have been covered in coir matting to encourage faster growth of suitable riparian vegetation than would be achieved through leaving bare, clay banks.
For this project we must thank the Environment Agency along with the landowners and their land agents for all the advice, support and flexibility in allowing this project to come to fruition. We are now looking for other area where these low impact, highly beneficial habitats can be created. For more information please contact the Project Officer, Peter King at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07881 458134.