Between 2011 and 2013, Natural Enterprise and the Island 2000 Trust with the Environment Agency delivered 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.
Working with expert river contractors Wessex Land and Water, we completed 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 was 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 had 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 were also left weakened and prone to splitting, falling over the path or into the river. We coppiced and pollarded willows and alders in order to bring stretches of light back to the river. 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 has recreated 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.