River Waveney could see new – more natural – approach in conservation

A radical new – and more natural – approach to river conservation could be adopted to revitalise a watercourse shared by Norfolk and Suffolk.

The River Waveney Association, which was launched at a meeting in Harleston in March and already has more than 150 members, is investigating the use of light-touch river management along the Waveney to improve natural water flow and enhance flora and fauna.

Members of the association saw this approach working successfully during a trip to the River Bure at Blickling on Friday.

Chairman Geoff Doggett, from Harleston, said: 'We were very impressed. Of course, every river is different and has a different profile, but we're looking at possibly adopting what is suitable for the Waveney.'

The approach involves leaving 'large woody debris' (fallen trees, branches and other natural debris) mostly in place, instead of removing it, and letting nature take its course.

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The technique has been gaining ground among conservationists because evidence increasingly suggests that it accelerates the rehabilitation of degraded watercourses.

The Bure trip followed the first committee meeting of the association last Tuesday, with members elected to represent user groups, organisations or areas of expertise: Dave Gladwell, from Ellingham, secretary (angler); Rod Cooke, Ellingham (canoeist, walker, angler); Gordon Lascelles, Harleston (canoeist, young people); Keith Lead, Stradbroke (drainage); Andrew MacKney, Beccles (sailor); John Rickett, Gillingham (Bungay Canoe Club and Canoe England); Peter Knights, Roydon (canoeist, Diss River Care Group). Also, as observers: Will Akast (Environment Agency); Barry Bendall, Haddiscoe (Rivers Trust).

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The aims of the association are to ensure the river and its surroundings are maintained and made accessible for the enjoyment of residents and visitors now and for future generations. They include: improving water quality, flow and cleanliness; removing unnecessary structures; improving the ecology, navigation, angling and general access; improving communication between the various user groups and public bodies; and promoting the role of the river in the cultural, social, educational, environmental and economic life of the Waveney Valley.

For further details, visit www.riverwaveneytrust.org or call Geoff Doggett on 01379 853464.

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