Rivers Ecology worked in partnership with the Environment Agency to deliver this ambitious stage zero river and floodplain restoration project.
What is Stage zero river restoration?
Many of our rivers have been modified and disconnected from their floodplain. Stage zero river restoration is an exciting technique that can be used to reconnect rivers back to their original floodplains. This method works with natural processes to create geomorphically diverse integrated stream and wetland ecosystems that are amazing for wildlife and flood storage and water quality.
Stage zero can be achieved by blocking the river channel and allowing water to flow freely onto the floodplain. Over time, the rerouted water creates a series of shallow banked braided channels that have the freedom to move around the floodplain as they would have done before human intervention.
Wetland habitat creation at the Little Ouse
The section of the Little Ouse we worked on had been historically straightened and dredged and as a result was incised and totally disconnected from the floodplain. Stage zero restoration was completed in March 2022, reconnecting the river to its floodplain. An impressive 7.5 hectares of wetland and wet woodland habitat were created by blocking the Little Ouse and breaching the river bunds in several strategic locations. This has allowed river water to reconnect to the floodplain, creating an amazing free-flowing wetland system, before re-joining the original channel further downstream. As these habitats continue to evolve, they will increase biodiversity at the site, creating a haven for birds, fish, and water voles.
Rivers Ecology will continue to monitor the project in the coming years to see how the integrated river and floodplain system changes over time.
If you're interested in restoring a section of river visit our river restoration page or get in touch!