GETTING TO GRIPS: Wetland management for people and wildlife: Why ditches are important

Ditches are a common feature of the Manhood Peninsula but are often overlooked. They provide an important function of carrying water into larger waterways and thence to the sea and are thus an integral part of effective flood prevention.

Ditches also provide a wetland habitat for many wildlife species including the nationally rare and endangered Water Vole. Managing ditches for fl ood alleviation and prevention can work hand in hand with good habitat maintenance if the right kind of sympathetic management practices are used.

Ditches are most effective when they are permit water to fl ow and are connected to the wider network of waterways. This allows movement of water away from fl ood areas into bigger channels, such as the rifes, and then into the harbours. The ditches also permit “tanking” – ie the holding of large volumes of water, after rain has fallen, which can then be absorbed back into the ground or which can flow away.

Culverts, the underground piping of water, however, are prone to becoming blocked, breaking and they cannot hold water for absorption, or allow the surrounding land to drain into them.

They require regular, often expensive maintenance frequently from an outside agency. Culverts also have no wildlife value and can act as a barrier to the movement of wildlife such as water voles through riparian habitats.


Advice for Water Management

Arun and Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT) – works on a catchment basis and includes the Western streams some of which are part of the Manhood Peninsula. c/o Barlavington Estate Offi ce, Dye House Lane, Duncton, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 0LF.

Downs & Harbours Clean Water Partnership – Project Manager Offi ce: 023 9224 9215; Mobile: 07714 132949; Email:

Environment Agency Solent and South Downs Area Office – Guildbourne House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, Sussex, BN11 1LD 0370 8506506 statutory organisation oversees water quality, manages flood and coastal risks and issues permits 

• Mark Bennett

Water Vole Terry Whittaker ©

Water Vole
Terry Whittaker ©

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Wetlands and the Manhood Peninsula →