Staffordshire University, River Trent

Habitat(s) to be improved Grassland, Invasive species, Watercourse, Wetland

Lead Organisation Wild Trout Trust

Site Area River Trent

About The Site

Staffordshire University Nature Reserve lies on the banks of the River Trent just off the A52 Leek road. The site includes a variety of habitats such as grassland, a large pool, sections of woodland and a section of the Trent itself.

The areas of grassland on the site are not intensively managed and already possess some diversity, with a presence of species such as Yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) albeit in low abundances, the majority of the grassland however is dominated by rougher grass species such as Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and False Oat-grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) and would benefit from the introduction of green hay or supplementary seed.

The large pool has a significant amount of marginal vegetation growth as well as large amount of scrub growth around the periphery mostly consisting of Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea). Himalayan balsam

(Impatiens glandulifera) is also fairly frequent around the margins of the pool and the river. There is also a narrow strip of woodland surrounding approximately 75% of the pool and it appears as though some thinning of trees has recently taken place. The north-eastern end of the pool graduates into a swamp/inundation type habitat with a small area of reedbed also present. The pool is not directly connected to the river possibly the only exception being in times of high flow.

The river at this site is heavily modified, it has been extensively straightened and lies in an armoured channel lined with stones to prevent any natural meandering, the flow diversity is poor and sediments are poorly sorted with the majority of the bed dominated by fine sediments. Riparian habitat is largely unmanaged aside from a few short stretches alongside paths which appear to be regularly cut. Himalayan Balsam is also present. A MoRPH survey was conducted which highlights the above issues.

  • Grassland enhancement via green hay strewing and/or supplementary seed sowing on the area of poor semi-improved grassland.
  • Possibly re-meander the river channel to diversify pool and riffle flow structure. Digging out new channels and backfilling existing sections, further creation of backwaters and seasonal inundation areas will provide increased water storage capacity in times of high flow as well as providing increased habitat diversity.
  • If the option above is not feasible then implementation of soft engineering techniques such as installation of in stream structures (woody debris, engineered log jams etc.) to sort substrates and diversify flow patterns at several locations throughout the length of the watercourse. Possible removal of the armoured stone toe of the riverbank to allow the river to increase erosion and deposition rates leading to a more ‘natural’ channel.
  • In conjunction with the above, rotational tree management through coppicing and thinning will improve light shade regime for the watercourse, as well as provide material for which to create in stream habitat improvement structures. Some scrub clearance may be beneficial around the pool to fit in with thinning which appears to have been carried out recently.
  • Invasive species control.

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