River Restoration at Hawley Meadows – 5 years on

Back in 2012 a small willow tipped over into the River Blackwater at Hawley Meadows. Usually we retain trees in the channel as they help to reduce flooding by slowing down the flow and also increase biodiversity. Working with the Environment Agency we have carried out several river restoration projects on Hawley Meadows and the wider River Blackwater, including installing wood in the channel and creating riffles for fish breeding.

Willow tips over into channel in 2012

In this case, with the location of the fallen tree up-stream of the bridge by the car park, we were concerned about the risk of undermining the western bridge pier. This proved correct, when a month later the river had already scoured out behind the tree and incised the river bank, so we booked in a task.

Chris came out and lent a hand as I chainsawed off the fallen tree in the river, then fixed the tree root-plate back in place. We also pegged in hawthorn faggots. These bundles of brash help to secure the bank and slow down the river flow to promote settling of sediment.

Fixing faggots in the channel


Chris installing faggots

Last week during our River Restoration Training from Steve, I was very pleased to see our efforts have worked, as the eroded bank has now reformed and stabilised with vegetation protecting the bridge pier.

Newly built up bank this year

On the week beginning 18th September we’ll be hosting River’s Week, and inviting people to join us in improving the biodiversity of the River Blackwater. Watch this space for more details nearer the time.

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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