FLOW Project leader, Jane, talks us through a photo diary of changes made to Cakeham Manor, in West Wittering.
The work we are carrying out are the actions that the European Beaver would have carried out in previous centuries on the landscape. Cutting back trees, repurposing them, slowing down water, deepening waterways and widening them, creating open places for new plants to grow, removing vegetation and allowing water to pool. They are much more efficient and subtler than we are about it and their work has shaped our landscape in the past.
This relic stream / ditch and wetland area was identified for improvement during the ditch surveys of West Wittering parish. A dense area of bramble and willow dominated the site with large standards of sycamore which completed overshadowed the waterway. It was felt that this site was a major opportunity for improvement.
12 January 2017
The site was very overgrown with willow, bramble and invasive species introduced by adjacent residents – bamboo and leylandii.
20 January 2017
Volunteers cut back willow over the stream to get rid of shading, created paths to get further into the site and kept the dead material for dead hedging.
10 February 2017
Volunteers hammered in stakes ready to create a dead hedge and continued to open up the area by removing willow, sycamore saplings and bramble.
24 February 2017
Continued with the staking, dead hedge creation and removal of invasive species.
21 April 2017
Planted some ferns along the open area of the hedge and along the waters edge where it is going to remain shadier.
16 June 2017
Reptile tins put down and species surveying – butterfly, reptile and bird.
26 October 2017
Volunteers cut back fallen trees and some of the overgrown vegetation to expose the dead hedge and to remove bramble from the trees.
28 October 2017
Work session to continue cutting back willow and sycamore and to push further into the site.
17 November 2017
Large log piles created where tree surgeons had worked. Vegetation clearing continued.
08 December 2017
Continuation of the dead hedge and vegetation clearing
14 December 2017
Digger contractor came in and dug out the stream bed to remove the silt and increase the depth.
14 February 2018
Wildflower plugs, wetland and shade plants, and seeds planted
02 March 2018
Stakes and binders put in next to a dead hedge along the pavement fence line to protect the site from litter. New hedge trees also planted to add a mix of species.
22 March 2018
Coir rolls put on site and wetland plants added to improve biodiversity.
21 April 2018
Sycamore seedlings pulled up to prevent their invasion of the site.
Summer growth with floral species making the most of the increased light.
10 October 2018
The start of work to just open up the stream again and remove fallen tree branches and to push further along the channel. Water vole seen where never previously recorded
13 October 2018
Work on the far bank to open up the new hedge area, clear litter, let light onto the banks by the stream and to remove some of the covering bramble.
28 October 2018
Opened up the dead hedge and added fresh material. Ensured the new trees had the brambles removed from them and that the water channel remains open.
13 November 2018
Site looking lush and the water running well.
26 November 2018
Pendulous sedges are starting to spread across the site and provide good bank cover for water voles as well as securing them.
Work for 2019
We will push into the last sector of the waterway to open it up and add more wetland and shade loving plants.