River Colne

The River Colne is an asset for wildlife and water through Essex, however it is known to have low flows and low dissolved oxygen levels at certain times of the year. This can affect fish, insects and other aquatic wildlife. Planting trees along the river can help to reduce these impacts by creating shading which results in cooler water temperatures and higher dissolved oxygen levels.

Planting native trees on the banks also has its own intrinsic value for wildlife, creating new habitat which will benefit a mix of species from insects to bats.

Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust Project officer, Mary Norden, undertook a survey to identify possible opportunities and was also pleased to find an interested local landowner to work with. The ensuing discussions resulted in a detailed plan of action including the exact location of planting compartments and species mixes. Fencing and the need to ensure grazing animals couldn’t graze and browse our efforts were key! Mary worked closely with colleagues at the Environment Agency (EA) and with their assistance secured the required Flood Defence Consent for works near a main river and she carried out the ecological assessments. Once the scope was agreed it was vital to find fencing and tree planting contractors who understood the objectives of what we were trying to achieve and worked hard to deliver it a huge thanks to Karl Roots Contractors. The time of year meant we found ourselves up against the clock to get the scheme underway, as the bare rooted trees we were using needed to be in the ground before the end of March. It was tight but with everyone pulling together the project was completed well within time.

Here are a few photos of the final product on a grey March afternoon, it all looks bit raw having just been completed but once the many beautiful species of trees planted make progress, this area of the Colne will be even better for water and wildlife. There is a public footpath that runs along the back of the site from Seven Arches Farm (near Colchester) to New Bridge, so do please wander along to take a look at the project.

If you are a local landowner, or an organisation that is interested in discussing possible enhancements, please get in touch via our website. Things we might do together include tree planting, fencing to reduce poaching / erosion of river banks and making new in-channel features such as woody debris that enhance river flow and create habitat and refuge for fish and other wildlife. You may also have your own ideas which we would be delighted to discuss. 

        165px Seven Arches Farm Tree Planting - Before    160px Seven Arches Farm Tree Planting March 2016  160px Seven Arches Farm tree planting Oct 2016

The first picture shows the area before planting took place; photo two is just after planting had finished in March 2016 and photo three shows the plants beginning to establish in October 2016.


A second year of planting has now been completed and a total area of 3,500m2 of the river bank is now planted with a variety of trees and shrubs suited to this area.

275px Completed Colne Tree planting - Seven Arches Farm

Map showing the areas they have been planted over the two years of the project. 

Planting of the last three sections was completed in March 2017 and over time the trees and shrubs will provide much needed shade for the River Colne.

275px Tree planting Seven Arches Farm March 2017

Planting taking place in March 2017.

Thanks goes, again, to the landowner for allowing us to create these areas on his land. Also this project would not have been possible without funding from the Environment Agency and Essex Rivers Hub Catchment Partnership and the trees and planting equipment provided by the Woodland Trust in 2017.

                                          275px EA Logo   275px Woodland Trust Logo


River Colne

WFD water body status


WFD overall status objective

To achieve good ecological status by 2027

Project type

Habitat improvement

Benefiting species and/or habitats

Planting of trees along the channel will increase shading, helping to increase dissolved oxygen in high temperatures. These trees will also increase biodiversity and habitat potential.

Total area covered by project

3500 Squ,metres

Total area surveyed

River Colne

Project lead

Essex & Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT)

Contact for more information

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Project partners

Karl Roots Contractors, Landowner

Funding source

Environment Agency, Essex Rivers Hub

Project start


Project end


Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           ESWT Logo 70

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust