About the project
In the Forest of Dean we are working closely with the Forestry Commission, the main land owner, on a number of projects including the Forest Waters Project. Our Forest Waters Officer is providing Forestry Commission with advice and expertise on ways in which the forest’s watercourses and wetlands can be enhanced for biodiversity, water quality, public amenity and other ecosystem services and to reduce flood risk.
In practical terms, this means working to slow the flow of water; slow the overland flow by planting and encouraging appropriate vegetation; retain water in the headwaters of the streams using woody debris and leaky dams; restore meanders, obstructions and backwaters in the main channels and reconnect the streams to their natural flood plains. The work will mirror GWT’S successful Rural Sustainable Drainage System (RSuds) work at Snow’s Farm nature reserve.
Through field surveys, by talking to people and by researching the history, geology and hydrology of the forest, we are identifying opportunities to help improve the water quality, flood risk and biodiversity of the four main watercourses in the Forest of Dean: Cannop, Cinderford, Blackpool and Greathough Brooks.
Our touchstone is that we want to restore the natural function of the streams and their catchments. This will be a long process and the work is integrally linked with Forestry Commission’s ‘Our Shared Forest’ vision which is a new, long term strategy to achieve a vibrant and sustainable forest where natural processes work to maintain healthy ecosystems for people and wildlife.
The Eel is a very long, narrow fish that can grow to over a metre in length. It looks smooth and lacks the obvious scales and gills of other fish. It can be found in rivers and ditches, but leaves its freshwater home to breed in an area of the west Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea. Young Eels (known as 'Elvers') return to freshwater rivers to develop. Eels are predators and scavengers, feeding on dead animals, fish eggs, invertebrates and other fish. It has suffered dramatic declines and is a protected species.
As well as slowing the flow of water, the Forest Waters Project will aim to improve conditions for fish, such as the critically endangered European eel and lampreys, by removing or modifying weirs and other manmade barriers so wildlife can move freely through the catchments.