The River Irt in the Black Wood area was straightened during the mid 1960’s. This has reduced the quality and quantity of the habitat together with causing water to speed through the reach exacerbating flooding and erosion downstream.
Thankfully when the river was straightened the old course of the river was not filled in. The only barrier to the river accessing the paloechannel was a gravel bund on the upstream end. In partnership with the Environment Agency and the National Trust we decided to take a novel approach to restoring the reach. We decided to facilitate the river to repair itself.
Trees growing from the bund have been dislodged to simulate windblow and used to create a logjam. This work has been funded by the Environment Agency Fisheries Improvement Programme. By breaking apart the bund and partially blocking the river with trees, water will be encouraged to flow into the paleochannel. Over time the river will adjust and revert to a more natural state.
The quantity of the habitat will more than double - 540m works Vs 195m before works.
The quality of the habitat will improve as a more natural pool – riffle – glide sequence is expected to develop.
The resilience of the habitat will improve – the risk of redd washout during floods will be significantly reduced.
The works will help reduce flooding downstream by slowing the flow of water downstream
Update March 2020
Over the winter, high flows have started to kick start the restoration of the area. The trees within the main channel have created interesting gravel deposit features and more water is being pushed into the paleochannel.