River restoration project completed

A year-long river restoration project, including volunteer tree planting, has been completed on Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s Woodhouse Washland nature reserve. The works will have a huge impact on local wildlife including improving conditions for fish breeding, creating habitat for wading birds and increasing the breeding opportunities for the protected species great crested newt.

With £34,928 of funding provided by Biffa Award, a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to communities and environmental projects across the UK, three in-channel berms have been installed in the River Rother to diversify flow in the canalised river, improving habitat for fish breeding making this area more habitable for them.

Additionally, two earth bunds on the floodplain have been created to hold back surface water and create shallow pools in winter and spring for waterfowl and wading birds, such as lapwing and snipe. The riverbanks have been re-graded to prevent erosion and 200 native trees have been planted by volunteers – they will provide food and shelter for breeding birds and will also provide some shading of the river to provide extra resilience against the impacts of climate change.

Project manager, Nabil Abbas from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust:

“Thanks to funding from Biffa Award, we’ve been able to make big strides towards restoring the River Rother at Woodhouse Washlands. Following canalisation in the 1950s and decades of heavy industry, the river really was on its knees. The river restoration project has allowed us to put back some of the natural features in the river channel and on its floodplain, helping nature’s recovery here on the Rother”.

Over the past year the project has also delivered on the creation of three new ponds for the protected species great crested newt, which already breed on the reserve. In addition to the project having a positive impact on wildlife it has also engaged the local community; installing a new pond dipping platform, running a series of family-friendly wildlife sessions and erecting an information panel for visitors to the nature reserve.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager:

“Biffa Award is delighted to be able to support the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s project at Woodhouse Washland nature reserve. The river restoration works that we have funded will go a long way to improve and enhance the habitats and breeding opportunities for a wide range of wildlife including fish and great crested newts. Now more than ever it is extremely important that we support projects like this which promote nature’s recovery.”

Published by