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Weaving willow for water quality – it really works!

Posted: Thursday 4th June 2015 by Waterforwildlife

Willow spiling River EcclesbourneWillow spiling River Ecclesbourne, DWT

Volunteers have been working hard over spring to help Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reduce erosion on the banks of the River Ecclesbourne with a technique using only willow.

One of the problems being addressed on the River Ecclesbourne is erosion of the river banks, which is reducing the quality of local habitat for fish, and the cloudy water cogs the gills of fish and the invertebrates they feed on.

In an attempt to solve the issue, volunteers have been weaving living willow into the banks of the river, a technique known traditionally as willow spilling. When willow is woven in and around the banks of a river it stabilises the river bank, collecting silt and sediment as well as providing a habitat for invertebrates and fish fry. The reduced amount of sediment on the river bed allows fish to spawn in the gravels which are revealed.

This week the dedicated team returned to the site to find that their partially completed willow section had already collected over eight inches of sediment from the flowing river and that it is successfully preventing erosion in the bank behind - a fantastic example of the effectiveness of ‘soft engineering’ where you use plants rather than concrete or rocks to restore river banks.

How can I get involved? 

The work is part of a project funded by a £69,245 grant from SITA Trust’s Local Landfill Communities Fund. Work will be continuing in the Ecclesbourne area, if you would like to join the volunteer team, please contact Kay Thompson on 01773 881188.



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