How we’re protecting Pool Dam Marsh

Pool Dam Marsh is a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in central Newcastle-under-Lyme which includes a short section of the Lyme Brook. It is managed by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council.

Current issues – why Pool Dam Marsh is under threat

Pool Dam Marsh is primarily a swamp habitat, a type of wetland where water stays on or near the surface all year round. These habitats – and the wildlife they support – are becoming increasingly rare.

Over time, water-hungry plants and shrubs have out-competed the swamp vegetation at Pool Dam Marsh and are starting to dry the site out. Much of the wetland plants have been replaced by dominant species such as Great Willowherb (Epilobium hisutum), and several large dense patches of Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) scrub are also present across the centre of the site.

In order to conserve the wetland we need to give Pool Dam Marsh a helping hand and take out some of these dominant species so that the wetland plants can thrive once again.

Improving the Lyme Brook for wildlife

The Lyme Brook, a tributary of the River Trent, runs through Pool Dam Marsh. In the past however, the course of the brook has been significantly altered, and diverted into a new channel. The original channel is now a dry bed.

The new channel has been heavily modified and straightened, which offers a limited habitat for wildlife. Returning the brook back to its original channel would lead to the retention of more water on site, contributing to the health of the wetland.

There are also lots of mature trees growing along much of the brook’s length, which are heavily shading the narrow watercourse. This heavy shade is bad news for wildlife in the brook and other bankside plants and flowers, which aren’t receiving enough light to grow.

By thinning out and pollarding some of the bankside trees, we can let more light reach the brook, and provide a better habitat for wildlife. Some dominant and invasive plant species, such as Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) are also growing within the channel of the brook itself, and crowding out other species.

Under the SUNRISE project, we want to breathe new life into this section of Lyme Brook, and reinstate it as a green corridor for both wildlife and people within this urban area.

 

Dense bankside trees alongside Lyme Brook are casting heavy shade over the watercourse

Planned conservation work under the ERDF SUNRISE Project

  • Re-wetting the wetland habitat by restoring drainage ditches and clearing invasive vegetation from the ditches
  • Introducing water control structures to prevent seasonal drying out of the wetland areas and to provide conditions suitable for a more diverse range of species
  • Restoration of waterbodies
  • Thinning and pollarding bankside trees in order to allow more light to reach the brook, which will benefit wildlife
  • Removing invasive scrub vegetation, concentrating particularly on the large patches throughout the centre of the site, which should also help to re-wet these areas
  • Invasive species control, for example clearing Himalayan Balsam, which out competes other native wild plants and flowers
  • Introducing more regular management through grazing or cutting