Wetland restoration to restart at Wootton on 15 May: FAQs

Restoration work at Wootton stream, near Burley, will restart on 15 May. Find out all you need to know about the restoration with these FAQs:

Why are you restoring the natural course of the Avon Water in the Wootton area?

Independent research has shown that the wetland restoration scheme 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.

How do you know where the natural bends of the river are located?

The Forestry Commission’s team of experts used a range of evidence to assess where the natural course of the river was prior to the drainage channels being constructed. In particular, we used a series of historical maps. Maps dated 1788-90 and 1814 clearly show the natural bends of the Avon Water in the area.

Above: Wootton before restoration (top) and eight months after restoration showing the meander inserted and the old infilled straightened channel barely visible.

How much of the waterway do you intend to restore?

The restoration work intends to return just over 2miles, or 4km, of artificially straightened Avon Water to its natural meanders. This work aims to safeguard the New Forest’s internationally important wetland habitats and help to prevent erosion washing gravel downstream.

When will the restoration work take place?

The restoration works will be undertaken in phases, during a short ten-week period. Work will only be carried out Mondays to Fridays, to minimise disruption to forest users and give access during weekends, evenings and bank holidays. The work will begin from 15 May 2017 to the area west of Wootton Bridge and then move on towards the east of the bridge. The car park at Wootton Bridge and other car parks in the area will not be affected and will remain accessible during the work.

Will I still be able to walk my dog, or ride my horse while the work is being carried out?

Yes, you will still be able to use the forest for recreational activities such as walking, cycling, horse-riding etc. All existing paths and crossing points will stay in place. However, there may be some temporary interruption during the ten week working phase to some of the tracks.

Will there be an increased flood risk?

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.

How is this restoration work being funded?

It’s 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.