West Sussex river re-routed to create wetland habitat

image captionThe surrounding fields will flood during the winter and create a wetland grazing marsh.

Work to create a new wetland habitat for birds and other wildlife has begun at a West Sussex nature reserve.

The Woods Mill river at Henfield has been re-routed to attract species such as snipe, kingfisher and little egret.

The Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) said water from the river would now flood the surrounding fields during the winter to create a wetland marsh.

SWT and the Environment Agency constructed meanders and oxbow lakes to move the stream.

'Valuable wetland'

SWT Reserves Officer, Steve Tillman, said: "When the project is completed there will be greater habitat diversity on site enhancing everyone's enjoyment of a visit to the Woods Mill nature reserve.

"Visitors will be able to walk around the new landscape (when it is not flooded) and see the river course develop and change into a new valuable wetland habitat from specially constructed viewing platforms."

The SWT said the line of the old river would still retain some water to provide a static pool for pond insects and small mammals such as the water shrew.

The Environment Agency is also building a fish pass upstream to allow protected sea trout to access new breeding grounds.

Hannah Wright from the Environment Agency said: "The new fish pass will allow sea trout and other fish species to access areas previously virtually impassable.

"Together with the restoration scheme, it will improve a large stretch of the Woods Mill stream for many species of fauna and flora."

More on this story

Around the BBC