The difference we are making
In the two images above, you can clearly see the increase in vegetation, especially along the field perimeters.
Wadebridge flood meadows restoration in the Camel estuary upstream of Wadebridge.
Natural England, the Gaia Trust and the Environment Agency have realised the vision of 7-year project to restore 15 hectares of tidal floodplain. This January saw the first floods to enter Treraven meadows in over 100 years.
The fields are directly adjacent to the Camel Trail, and were previously used for hay and summer grazing. They have been allowed to flood around the tidal cycle and spring tides will now enter the fields through a series of new and existing pipes.
The aim of the project is to restore the floodplain that will allow natural habitat such as salt marsh to develop. Birdlife has already benefited from the flooding with lapwing and curlew visiting the fields immediately after the first floods.
The Gaia Trust bought Treraven Farm in 1998 and soon hatched a plan with the Environment Agency to re-flood the meadows they had bought.
After discussions with surrounding landowners the area of land extended to 25 hectares on both banks of the river. Natural England funded a feasibility study in 2003 to develop a design and gain permissions required. By autumn 2006 everything was in place to start construction.
The construction work took 12 weeks. The old creeks that have been excavated will be mud and the vegetation will turn to tidal marsh similar to the existing vegetation that you see around the outside of the banks. The new habitat will extend the habitat for local bird life, and we expect curlew, sandpipers, lapwing and possibly some migrant visitors. Lapwing breed on Bodmin Moor and are a regular visitor to the Camel estuary. If the grazing is right then lapwing could be breeding in these fields in the near future.
The opportunity for the creation of salt or tidal marsh in Cornwall is rare. This is a very exciting project that has had the support of many Camel Trail Partnership members over the years. This winter the meadows have been flooded once more. To see the meadows at their best, check your tide table and make sure there is big tide in the estuary which happens twice a month, normally first thing in the morning and in the evening 7am and 7pm. At the moment viewing these fields will be only from the Camel Trail.