Tree maintenance report by Paul Rutter – CCT Biodiversity Director
The Water Recovery Group forestry team made another welcome and important visit to the canal on the weekend of 8th – 10th March in order to carry out some long planned tree maintenance & reduction work between Ryeford Locks and Ryeford bridge.
This section of the canal has become increasingly vulnerable to erosion from the river that runs just a few feet from the canal, separated only by the towpath!
The first picture taken by Project Manager Steve Pickover illustrates this risky situation.
Receding water levels permit work
Recent storms and wet weather and high levels of fast flowing water made the situation even more of a priority. The high and fast water prevented this work until the levels had receded.
In fact the sun shone throughout the weekend and there was no wind. On Saturday and Sunday the team removed dead and heavy alder and willow trees that were overhanging the canal and river.
Thinning out the large alders will allow increased light levels to reach the river bank. This will encourage vegetation to grow. Some bank restoration may also be necessary.
The alders will soon re-sprout low down where they have been cut. This will reduce the risk of failure and enable the trees to hold the bank together in the long term. It will also become an attractive and easily managed habitat.
Some willows were trimmed back to the original 6 feet high bole. The trees will now regrow in a better balanced way with less risk of branches snapping off into the river.
Some lumps of deadwood timber have been retained as support for invertebrates in this area.
Maintenance fleet deployed
Three of the Cotswold Canals Trust Maintenance vessels were brought to the site by their crews to work alongside the wrgie tree teams. The boats carried the brash and some of the heavier timber away from this restricted part of the canal corridor.
Work here will now stop here for the nesting season.
Click on the photos to view larger versions.