River Waveney restoration project helps fish population

The River Waveney from Low Road, Billingford.

The River Waveney from Low Road, Billingford. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Famous for its scenic views and the esteem in which is it is held by fishermen and canoeists, the river Waveney has long been popular with visitors.

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Now, a major restoration project has been carried out to help its wild inhabitants.

The work focused on a 1.5 mile section of the river between Scole and Billingford, near Diss, and aimed to help the fish population and improve surrounding habitat, for other species.

The work had to be carried out carefully to avoid water vole burrows on the river banks.

The project took two weeks to complete and was carried out by the Environment Agency (EA), Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the River Waveney Trust.

It involved creating a sloping river bank to support the diverse range of wetland plant species.

The work also helped to combat the river's low dissolved oxygen levels - oxygen present in water for aquatic animals and organisms to use for respiration - to help the fish in the river. A dissolved oxygen level that is too high or too low can harm aquatic life and affect water quality.

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Geoff Doggett, founding trustee of the River Waveney Trust, said: 'The river is very slow moving and particularly in the stretch between Scole and Billingford. In the summer when it's warm and hot the river heats up and even a difference of one degree Celsius can kill fish.

'By making the river meander a bit more, by creating bends, it improves the flow and speed of the river.

'Fish are the middle of the food chain, when there is a healthy fish population, it helps the food chain.'

EA officers will also be working with landowners Andrew West and Sir Rupert Mann to identify areas where trees can be planted.

It is hoped this will increase cover and provide shade so the water is cooler which is better for some fish species and helps reduce stress to river habitats and species in hot weather.

Habitat diversity will also be increased through tree roots growing in the banks and channel.

Will Akast, EA's project manager, said: 'The project was a success thanks to some fantastic team work.

'It has improved the river's habitat at very low cost and the additional riverside tree planting work proposed will help fish in this section of the Waveney cope with prolonged periods of hot summer weather. We are keen to work with other landowners to develop river habitat enhancement projects.'