4. Wetlands for Waders in Widford
Theme: Ecology and biodiversity
- Enhance and restore floodplain habitats
Enhancing the floodplain for wildlife in the Ash Valley.
Chalk rivers connected to good quality floodplain and wetland habitats are very important for wildlife. Some of our most iconic but threatened species depend on them to survive, yet across the UK we have lost 95% of natural wetlands and more than 10% of freshwater species now face the risk of extinction.
The Ash Valley below Widford provides a rare example of floodplain grassland, complete with natural wetland features like depressions and ditches. This area is important to rare wading birds such as redshank, snipe and lapwing, as well as small mammals like water voles.
Working with Easneye Estate, the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Environment Agency, delivered a project in 2015 to improve the condition of a spring-fed ditch connected to the River Ash. The fence line along the ditch was set back to allow a larger area of riparian vegetation to develop, creating habitat for insects and water voles.
Further work to enhance the floodplain meadows is needed and will involve creating additional wetland features, like scrapes, ditches and ponds, that the river can overtop into and can also collect with rainwater.
We hope to increase the Ash Valley's resilience to climate change and low flows, by encouraging more water to remain in the landscape for longer, and better support its vulnerable wildlife.
During 2020, a detailed design for this wetland enhancement scheme will be completed. This will outline the work required and result in a construction-ready plan that can be delivered when funding is available.
Please contact Sarah Perry, Living Rivers Officer, on the details below if you would like to discuss opportunities to support this project.