River Works Westgate Parks and Up-river
Great Stour between Westgate Gardens and A2 fly-over
2009-2012 and river boxes on-going in Westgate Gardens
WHAT WE DID:
In common with many other parts of the River Stour, the section between Westgate Gardens and the A2 fly-over has lost many of its natural features – meanders straightened, natural banks replaced with hard surfaces and floodplains drained. We undertook various works to restore some of these features. In 2009-10 we restored a long section of bank to a more natural profile in Westgate Gardens. In 2012 to add diversity to the river bed, we used a contractor to create ‘low-flow channels’ with a large digger, one location being close to Westgate Towers. In other places material was put at the base of the river bank to create a natural shelf for plants to grow. In Westgate Gardens where soft river banks had been replaced with hard landscaping, our volunteers created habitat by installing, initially, hessian sacks with soil, and then in 2016, timber boxes, both planted with vegetation suited to growing in the river margin. Finally in 2012, shallow depressions called scrapes were created in Whitehall Meadow, a Local Nature Reserve next to the river – they hold water and provide shallows and muddy margins.
The low-flow channel will benefit fish and river invertebrates and in periods of drought offer a refuge to all sorts of aquatic wildlife. Hard landscaped banks are usually put in to combat erosion, but removes habitat. By putting in planting boxes, we are restoring that habitat and, crucially, creating a much more effective barrier to erosion. Scrapes will benefit a range of wildlife but in particular provide winter feeding habitat for waders such as snipe and lapwing. These positive changes to the river will benefit the many visitors to this stretch of the river by making it more visually appealing and increasing the amount of wildlife they might see.
WHO WE WORKED WITH:
Environment Agency, Canterbury City Council