Pre-restoration condition of Wootton stream:
The Forestry Commission will be returning over 2.5 miles of artificially straightened Avon Water to its natural meandering stream course through Wootton Riverine Woodland. This two-year project seeks to safeguard the New Forest’s internationally important wetland habitats and help to prevent erosion washing gravel downstream. Phase one of the restoration works have finished, however, we will resume work in the summer of 2017.
This restoration work will slow the flow and reduce the impact of flood risk downstream. Householders in the area should be better protected from flooding by working with nature, rather than against it. By restoring the natural watercourses we will help to make sure the river is more resilient in both winter floods and summer droughts.
A flood risk assessment was undertaken, as part of the planning application, to provide evidence that the restoration works will not cause problems downstream and upstream.
Phase One Update
The first phase of the river restoration work has gone well, aided by a good summer of fair weather. Unfortunately, during the final week of this phase the weather turned and the ground was too wet to complete the last section. Whilst it is disappointing to not deliver the complete phase, we have successfully finished over two thirds of the Phase One section of the river and we hope to resume with this work next summer.
Our team of experts that work for the Higher Level Stewarding scheme have re-instated the natural bends in the river, infilling the deep man-made drains, and reducing the erosion of boggy mires. Over time, you’ll see a positive change on the restored stretch of river, improving the quality of habitats and restoring the physical functioning of the river system.
Benefits to wildlife and plant life
The wetland restoration scheme will soon brings significant benefits to a vast number of wildlife and plant life that inhabit the New Forest's waterways. This is a rare opportunity to restore our internationally important habitats and improve the riverside areas of Wootton for many unique species.
Recreational use of the forest
We aim to minimise disruption for forest users through a number of carefully planned routes and the timing of the next phase of restoration works will be Monday to Friday, allowing regular access for visitors during peak times, such as weekends, evenings and Bank Holidays.
We’ve worked hard to make sure a transport plan is in place to help manage restoration vehicle traffic during the next phase of the project. The environmental assessments that have been carried out have allowed us to develop robust plans to manage and safeguard the natural environment and wildlife. We couldn’t do this work without the support of the community and we hope that residents and visitors will continue to enjoy the forest.
How will the restoration work be funded?
This restoration work will be funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which is drawn from European and Central Government to spend on environmental restoration projects. The improvements made will help protect the New Forest’s precious habitats and ancient way of life, preserving this beautiful landscape for future generations to enjoy. This is part of a ten-year scheme, funded by Natural England, which is held by the Verderers and managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.
Timescale for Works
The restoration works will be undertaken in two short stages, of about nine weeks. The first phase has finished and the second stage will start in July 2017 to the east of the bridge. The car park at Wootton Bridge will remain accessible during the work.
(Proposed watercourse after restoration - download copy here)