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River Elwy – Pont Y Ddol Habitat Improvement

River Elwy – Pont Y Ddôl Habitat Improvement

An Environment Agency Wales Challenge Fund Project carried out in 2009

 

Background and Scope

 

This project was the second undertaken by the Trust in response to the Environment Agency Wales Challenge Fund, a fund made available to bidding rivers trusts to enable them to get valuable experience in best practice habitat improvement planning and implementation.

 

The project ran in parallel with the Afon Iwrch habitat restoration project although was significantly different due to the greater size of the Afon Elwy, more significant bank erosion as a consequence of adverse river flow, the lack of bankside vegetation in many places and general lack of maintenance over many years.

 

This was further worsened as a result of damage caused by stock ingress into the watercourse which also damaged spawning gravels and potential fishing stations in an important section of river for salmonid development and the fact that the river suffers greatly from flash flooding due to the large number of drainage ditches dug in the 1950s and 60s in the uplands to improve livestock grazing.

 

The work  carrried out

One task that was undertaken by the Trust to rectify these problems was to carry out channel improvements in some areas to guide river flow and create or improve fishing pools as well as to achieve better gravel conditions to improve spawning habitat.  Another was to open up areas of dense tree cover to allow ground vegetation to establish and develop closer to the water’s edge in order to aid the longer term river bank consolidation process.

In addition, certain sections of river bank were strengthened to reduce the extent of erosion.  Finally, fencing was erected at strategic locations to protect the work that had been carried out while ensuring that livestock had adequate access to the water course for drinking purposes in areas where potential damage was limited.

At the time, the Trust had concerns that habitat fencing would be likely to be damaged during subsequent winter floods and since then has conducted periodic maintenance of the fencing erected.