14. Restoring the Stort at Hunsdon Mead
Themes: Flow; Habitats and wildlife
- To maintain sufficient flow to support a healthy river ecosystem
- To maintain and enhance the river's natural habitats and wildlife
Hunsdon Mead is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) lying between the River Stort and Stort Navigation. It is one of the finest surviving wetland meadows in Hertfordshire, providing valuable unimproved grassland where orchids and wildflowers thrive.
The SSSI has been managed in a traditional way for hundreds of years. This is now undertaken by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to keep the nature reserve in favourable condition.
An ongoing task is managing 700m of bankside habitat along the River Stort. This is done through selectively pollarding riverside trees and removing excess fallen wood to keep the river flowing.
Pollarding reduces shading over the river and creates a dappled light effect, increasing the amount of bankside, marginal and submerged vegetation that is able to grow. It also helps prolong the life and health of the trees, which are important for a variety of insects, birds and bats.
A programme of pollarding took place in winter 2013 and is next intended for winter 2020.
A refreshed management plan for the River Stort through the reserve will be produced in spring 2019 to plan additional activities to improve the channel itself.