Woods Mill nature reserve, Henfield

Woods Mill nature reserve in Henfield is the headquarters of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and an environmental education centre. Running through the reserve is the Woods Mill Stream, which was in need of restoration so it could become a fully functioning river.

 The Trust has worked in partnership with the Environment Agency and received £50,000 funding from Viridor Credits as well as funding from Natural England, to re-naturalise the area and include a fully functioning river system reconnected with its floodplain. The project has also created a new habitat for wetland bird species such as snipe, kingfisher and little egret, as well as dragonflies and bats who feed on insects attracted to the water.

The stream has been moved from its present course to the lowest point in the floodplain by the creation of gentle meanders, riffles (areas of fast flowing water) and oxbow lakes. During the winter months, water will overwhelm the surrounding fields creating valuable wetland grazing marsh - ideal habitat for wildfowl and wetland birds. The line of the old river will still retain some water, providing a static pool for pond insects and small mammals such as the water shrew. The Environment Agency is also constructing a fish pass upstream of the restoration site to allow fish such as sea trout to access new breeding grounds.

"When the project is completed there will be greater habitat diversity on site enhancing everyone's enjoyment during a visit to the Woods Mill nature reserve. Visitors will be able to walk around the new landscape (when it is not flooded) and see the river course develop and change into a new valuable wetland habitat from specially constructed viewing platforms. "Steve Tillman, Reserves Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust.



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