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£90,000 for River Medina Restoration

25 Jan 2011

Restoring the River Medina

It has now been confirmed that £90,000 has been secured by Island 2000 and Natural Enterprise from SITA Trust’s (Not SITA UK) Enhancing Nature Programme to improve a prominent section of the River Medina for its declining fish species and other wildlife.

The first phase of this exciting project is to restore the critical 3km of the main river from the tidal limit of the Medina in the centre of Newport upstream to Blackwater. The aim is to ensure the in-stream and bank side habitats are of the quality needed to support target Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) fish species; the brown/sea trout and the European eel. Other species to benefit from the work will be the Water Vole and the Bullhead fish.

This river channel work will be managed by expert contractors Wessex Land and Water in June 2011 but before then one of the river’s main problems for fish and aquatic life must be tackled – its darkness. With little management in recent years the bank side trees have grown up until their canopies close overhead leaving the river too cold and dark to support the range of biodiversity it once did. Many of these trees are now also left weakened and prone to splitting, falling over the path or into the river. The project will therefore set about coppicing and pollarding willows and alders to restore a sunlit riverside walk that will be better for people and wildlife.

Ian Boyd of Head of Environment at Natural Enterprise said “The trees will be left to grow back and in some cases, curious though it may seem, the coppicing will extend a tree’s life where it might otherwise crack and begin to rot back and die.”

He continued “This project will enhance the river’s wildlife and make a better public place for local people with the help of partners such as the Environment Agency, IW Council and Newport Parish Council all of whom have given us invaluable help and advice to make sure the work runs smoothly and effectively. We are keen to encourage the involvement of local schools and they, along with any local residents who would like to know more or get involved, can get in touch, with us at Natural Enterprise, we’d be delighted to hear from them.”

Image: Trees overhanging the path and River Medina

The Medina River restoration project will contribute directly to the delivery of conservation objectives in the IOW Wetlands Habitat Action Plan and by improving habitat and migration for the Brown Trout and Eel covers key local, regional and national BAP targets too. The project reach also includes two Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and is a key Biodiversity Opportunity Area identified by Natural England.

A second phase of the project, starting in 2013 will aim to create fish passes over the large river weirs so that migratory fish can move easily upstream along the Medina to spawn.

We must also thank the Isle of Wight Council and Barratt Home who are responsible for the Pan development and have both played an essential role in getting this exciting project off the ground through development agreement funding that kick-started the SITA Trust bid.

Please contact Natural Enterprise on 01983 535886 if you would like to know more or have any questions about the work.