Wet work: keeping the Kennet's banks in shape - and helping the river's wildlife
Over the last month ARK volunteers have worked extremely hard - joined by Year 12 students from St John's Academy for one of the tasks - and have transformed the formerly barren and eroded bank by Hillier's Yard Car Park.
A more natural sinuous ribbon of native plants has been planted in the new bank work. Over the coming months the plants, including yellow flag iris, will take hold and provide the marginal habitat associated with a chalk stream and the wildlife a chalk stream supports - and some very attractive flowers.
ARK Project Officer Anna Forbes explains: "We know brown trout need cover as well as a clean riverbed to spawn and the new vegetation will provide this cover. Many invertebrates will benefit from the planting."
"We chose plants that are not only attractive for people but also nectar rich for bees, moths and butterflies. We are very hopeful Britain's fastest declining mammal the water vole will move in because there is a buffer zone of plants like sedge and flag iris. They are already present close by in Cooper's Meadow and at The Water Front and with the new habitat in place here, we have created a wildlife corridor for them."
The project was made possible with funding from Aster Communities and the Rivers & Wetlands Community Days and support from the Environment Agency and Waitrose, who are the owners of this stretch of riverbank.