In spring 2011, Natural Enterprise and the Island 2000 Trust began a series of projects 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 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 bankside habitats are of the quality needed to support target Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) 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.
Image: The concrete channel now enhanced with planting for wildlife
Working with expert river contractors Wessex Land and Water throughout summer 2011, we have now completed our in-channel improvements at seven sites along the river. These new bank stabilisations and channel enhancements have been planted with native, water-loving plants which are establishing well and will continue to provide colour and interest season by season.
A key part of the project is to tackle one of the main problems facing fish and aquatic life along the river – its darkness. With little management in recent years, the bankside 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. Last spring we began coppicing and pollarding willows and alders in order to bring stretches of light back to the river and we are now about to begin our second season of tree work – this time from Shide up towards Blackwater. The coppiced trees will be left to grow back; in some cases, coppicing actually extends a tree’s life, helping to prevent it from cracking and then rotting back and dying. As well as having numerous benefits for wildlife, this programme of tree management also recreates a sunlit riverside path for people to enjoy.
The Medina River restoration project is also an excellent example of partnership working; a Newport Rivers Group initiative, this two year project is funded by Sita Trust’s Enhancing Nature Programme with the invaluable help of our partners at the Environment Agency, Newport Parish Council and the Isle of Wight Council.
Please do call Natural Enterprise on 01983 201566 if you would like to know more or want to ask any questions about the work or email us.