The stretch of river in question was heavily shaded with a uniform channel and boasted little in the way of instream habitat. The works saw the pollarding of a number of large willows to let light into the channel and also saw the reinstatement of pieces of woody debris to provide cover for fish and encourage diversity of flow.
“We are pleased to have committed funds from our Research and Conservation budget to this project” said Pete Reading of the Barbel Society,
“The tree work has let light into the river, encouraging weed growth, and the large branches placed instream will make excellent fish refuges for barbel and chub in particular”
Andy Thomas from the Wild Trout Trust who lead the project said:
“The work at Thrupp has been a great example of a project where the Wild Trout Trust has been able to use its expertise in river habitat management. Actively working with the land owners and using local contractors, as well as having practical support from the local Environment Agency Fishery Officers is a good model for how we can all pull together to help improve our rivers.”
Woody debris and fallen trees are an important natural features of all watercourses. They provide habitat to fish, insects and birds. Fish in particular will seek them out as they provide excellent cover from predators and create areas of slack water which provide refuges from high flows. The works will also provide much needed fish refuge during the current drought and the flow in the Cherwell is only 17% of what would normally be expected at this time of the year.
Tom Sherwood Fisheries Officer for the Environment Agency said:
“Previous river management practices have sometimes seen the complete removal of woody debris from the river channel which can lead to a loss of habitat. Whilst fallen trees do need to be managed in areas where they pose an enhanced flooding risk to property, today we try and promote more of a balance between flood risk management and the retention of important habitat features.