Re-creation of the old meanders is now complete on the upstream half of the site (as far as Wootton Bridge) and the channel has been reconnected, but there is still work to be done downstream. The next step begins on 16 May 2018, when we will continue the work on the stretch of river downstream of Wootton Bridge car park.
We’d like to reassure forest users that the final phase of the work in this area will cause as little disruption as possible to footpaths and cycle tracks. We’d like to thank all the local residents and businesses that have worked with us, supported this project and helped us to safeguard these habitats for future generations.
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 Update
In 2017 we completed another 1.5 miles of river restoration at Wootton.
The frequent heavy rainfall that occurred last July and August really held us up and we had to delay our work programme until ground conditions were judged to be dry enough for contractors to continue restoring the site. It’s a complex operation and we work with specially-modified, low ground pressure machines in a very special place that we are trying to protect and improve.
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.
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.
We have continued to collect post-restoration fish, invertebrate and vegetation data to help gather an even greater range of scientifically robust evidence about the effectiveness of restoration techniques. This monitoring will shed more light on the environmental benefits of the scheme, and any improvements that we could make in the future.
This restoration work will also 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.
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.
(Proposed watercourse after restoration – download copy here)