Resilient River Update: Barnwell Inner Backchannel & Whitemills.

19 Feb 2019

River Nene Regional Park is delighted to report the following progress and improvements to Barnwell Inner Backchannel and Whitemills as part of our ongoing Resilient River Project.

Our Goal

 As part of our ongoing 3-year Nenescape Resilient River Project, part-funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, work is finished on the Barnwell Inner Backchannel and Whitemills areas as part of a broader scheme of projects taking place in the area, on both public and private land.

 With the River Nene managed primarily for navigation, and improvements difficult to implement, our focus has been on the backchannels and packwaters which provide more natural habitat and important refuge for local fauna and supports vital spawning habitat for fish. The restoration and improvement works we are carrying out on the backchannels and backwaters will create new features and enhance the existing habitat whilst also improving water quality, local amenities and flood defences in the local areas.  

 Our Approach

 Barnwell backchannel has had 160t of gravel introduced to top-dress existing gravel shoals. This well enhance sinuosity of the channel and provide new gravel spawning habitat for fish species.

 Alongside this, brushwood bundle revetment work has been successfully carried out to protect a length of eroding bank and to allow vegetation to establish as further bank protection.

 We also used material from pollarding some large willows as bank protection by pinning large trunks in to the bank along sections that had eroded due to heavy public access. A number of smaller trees have now been hinged & pinned along the bankside to increase marginal woody habitat.

 At Whitemills, a number of small willows were hinged & pinned along the North bank of the backchannel to increase marginal woody habitat for fish refuge and also to protect some areas of bank from erosion issues.

 The Southern bank had been heavily poached by livestock so we re-graded the entire length of the bank to create a marginal berm and shallow bank gradient. A fence line was erected 10m back from the top of bank to exclude livestock from causing future poaching issues.

The Result

 The Resilient River Project has successfully increased the capacity of the river in these areas, as well as improving the habitat for wildlife, and protecting the waterway and riverbank from poaching, erosion and other damage from livestock.

 Works such as these, as well as providing support and protection for the local flora & fauna, also serve to aid local amenities, resulting in less-steep riverbanks, boosting flood protections, and providing safer, greener environment for local communities using the area.

 To find out more about Resilient River, and to keep up to date with all current and ongoing RNRP projects, partnerships and initiatives, click here.