Windermere restoration project to end after reed beds restored

Lake Windermere, Cumbria
The restoration project is set to be completed by March and volunteers are required for the final two restoration events. Credit: PA Images

A project aimed at restoring reed beds around Windermere is coming to a close this month.

A target of 800sq metres has already been surpassed, with 2010sq metres of reed beds restored at eight sites over the last 18 months.

The project is set to be completed by the end of March with volunteers needed for the final two restoration events.

What is reed bed restoration?

Reed beds are found between water and land and are transitional habitats. They can form swamps in lowland floodplains or fringe streams, ponds, lakes, ditches or rivers with a thin feathery margin or reeds.

On the conservation of reed beds, The Wildlife Trust says: "Large-scale drainage schemes meant that extensive areas of reed-bed were converted to agricultural land from the 17th century onwards.

"The decline of reed-cutting during the 20th century, combined with pollution from agricultural run-off, has affected the quality of existing sites.

"There are about 900 reed beds in the UK, but of these only 50 are big enough to support bitterns."

Kath Smith, SCRT community engagement officer explains: "This partnership project has been a great opportunity for people to get actively involved with restoration projects on their doorstep.

"As well as addressing water quality issues through reed-bed planting, we have tried to address public perception by engaging communities with nature.

"Demonstration days and talks with local community groups and schools in the Windermere catchment have been carried out alongside practical delivery works.

"Developing knowledge about whether reed-bed restoration can be used as a biodiversity offsetting tool has also been an important objective of the project."

Sion Platts-Kilburn, Catchment Manager for United Utilities, said: "It’s wonderful to see so many volunteers helping to restore the reed beds and it’s a great example of how by working in partnership we can deliver real, tangible benefits to Windermere and the land surrounding the lake.

"Reed beds are a great example of how natural solutions can be used to improve water quality.

"It’s all about getting the right mix of hard engineering alongside nature-based solutions, and we will be looking to make more of these opportunities in the coming years."

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