National Trust leads project to reconnect river to floodplain in Somerset

National Trust leads project to reconnect river to floodplain in Somerset

20 October 2022

A pioneering project to reconnect a river to its original floodplain is underway in Somerset following a successful pilot scheme.

The National Trust is leading the large-scale restoration, which is the first of its type in the UK.

The project on the trust's Holnicote Estate, Exmoor, comes after a successful trial run on a tributary of the River Aller.

The approach, called ‘Stage 0’, is now being scaled up to 15 hectares of the main river and its surrounding landscape.

Ben Eardley, National Trust project manager, said: “We now have a tried and tested method to start reversing the damage done to our rivers.

“‘Stage 0’ floodplain reconnection completely resets natural processes – it’s like the ‘ctrl, alt, delete’ equivalent of a computer reset - and lets the river decide what it wants to be.

“By seeing the river and its surrounding landscape as a whole, we can build resilience and boost biodiversity.”

The first stage of the project is underway, with careful earthworks creating shallowly skimmed areas to reset the valley bottom and natural river flow.

Large timbers have been pinned or partially buried into the floodplain so habitat restoration can be ‘fast-tracked’, as the wood debris helps slow flows and develop more hydrological and ecological diversity.

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