River Hull – Habitat Improvement
Environment Agency teams have been working across three kilometres of flood embankment in Driffield, East Yorkshire, to reduce the risk of flooding and create valuable new wildlife habitat.
Officers have been cutting back trees around Tophill Low on the River Hull and making repairs to the flood embankment. The trees and vegetation needed clearing because in some areas it had become difficult for officers to inspect and do work to the embankment. The team used excavators, specialist tree cutters and chainsaws to cut back the trees and vegetation. Some of the removed timber has been recycled and used in projects in other areas of the catchment to help stabilise river banks.
Nick Appleyard, in the Environment Agency’s operations delivery team said:
“The trees encroached onto the embankment, and the river was washing around the trees, which was starting to cause some erosion to the bank, so it was crucial that we acted quickly before any more damage was done.
The vegetation also prevented the embankment from drying out, so it was very soft in places which can lead to further damage. Fallen tree branches during had washed downstream over time, so clearing these has helped increase the capacity of the river and maximise the amount of water the river can hold.”
Now the trees have been cleared, work is being done to repair damaged sections of the bank. The material used to repair the embankment is being dug from the channel side, to create ‘fish fry’ areas. These ‘fry’ areas will provide new habitat for young and spawning fish and shallow water for a range of wading birds.
All of the work has been done in partnership with Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low Nature Reserve, and the Environment Agency’s fisheries and biodiversity teams who have given expert advice to create the ‘fry’ areas.
Richard Hampshire, warden at Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low nature reserve said:
“This has been an excellent opportunity to improve the river environment from everyone’s perspective. The willow trees whilst cover for some common woodland species, were growing on formerly rich reed bed, which is home to many much more threatened wetland communities.
It is hoped that work will benefit birds like the bittern, marsh harrier, sedge and reed warbler, cuckoo and many insects, and that the fry refuges will increase numbers of coarse fish providing improved fishing for anglers both human and wild. In time we may re-introduce the rare greater water parsnip to this habitat too.
We have already seen a marked improvement in species using the reserve as a result with increased activity from the uncommon pintail and garganey ducks, but most notably the first ever breeding attempt by avocets on the reserve. We think these birds are already exploiting the wader scrapes on the river bank.”
In time a renewed traditional management regime on the river bank of reed cutting and burning will encourage the development of rich reed stands, and one day invite the return of breeding bittern to the River Hull valley again.
Officers are also working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to create new habitat for otters on the river.
By the Same Author
- River Dredging Threat – Benyon Calms the Storm
- Merseyside County Championships 2013
- Carp Fishing – Issue 17 of the Carp Channel is now Live!
- Welsh Carp Championships
- Chalk Stream Charter Launched This Week
- Take Someone Fishing this Bank Holiday Weekend - For FREE!
- Voluntary Bailiff Service – A Project Update on the Angling Trust’s Fight Against Poaching and Fish Theft
- Anglers Urged to Speak Up for the River Thames
- Match Fishing – Fish ‘O’ Mania 2013 Heat Ten
- Salmon and Trout Association Welcomes Marine Harvest Fish Farm Certification