Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Balancing water levels for wetland habitat management

Even during our dry summer the site, before work started, was still very marshy
The area to the south of our reserve is predominately wetland with the lower section regularly being inundated by high tides. Over time the ditches that take water off these marshes have silted up and the old tile drains have collapsed.  This has prevented cattle getting into these areas to graze and therefore has changed the floral diversity of this area.
Getting in the diggers to re-profile the old ditches
 As part of the higher level stewardship scheme for farm payments we embarked on a project to reinstate these ditches and install a sluice gate.
The sluice was specially made for the job
Sandscale has seasonally fluctuating water levels and the amount of standing water present can vary dramatically across the seasons and from year on year.  The sluice gate will allow us to control water levels to ensure sufficient water for breeding natterjack toads and a balance of wetland plants and grassland species.
It took no time to put in place
The new walk way was installed for ease of access
The walk way over the ditch next to the sluice will allow access for the cows to cross the ditching system, so both sides can be grazed
The sluice gate in action
Before work began

After digging the ditch
In 2012 the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology initiated a new dip-well monitoring regime on the reserve and also analysed data from previous studies.  Over time this should provide key information to help inform water level management.
After work, with the sluice gate in place

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