Essex Rivers Hub

After recently completing the river works at Little Waltham meadows, the Essex Biodiversity project have been working on a new river project; this time at Bocking Blackwater local nature reserve in Braintree.

This river project is slightly different to the one just completed outside of Chelmsford, not only is it on a different river, the river Pant. This project focuses on using soft engineering to improve this stretch of river.

One of the key issues facing this section of river is silt input and erosion, silt is one of the key sources of pollution and input of phosphates, it also reduces the oxygen content of the water which is not great for fish.

The relatively bare and species poor banks do not have the necessary vegetation to support a wide range of insects, breeding birds and other aquatic dependent animals which are a key function of our rivers. The remaining issues around the lack of vegetation relate back to pollution, reed and other aquatic vegetation are great, natural ways to clean our rivers; they do this by fixing nitrogen and phosphate in their root systems and forcing them down through the mud and soil where they are locked away.

To do this, we will be installing over 500 metres of pre planted coir rolls, 200 metres of coir pallets and 60 metres of willow spilling over a stretch of river approximately 1.5km long.


The idea of the pre-planted coir rolls and pallets is to help to establish and bring in floristic diversity. Once the plants have established themselves and bedded themselves into the riverbank these rolls and pallets then rot away.  The remaining roots and plants then help to tie the bank together reduce the silt inputs and help to remove the pollution and provide the additional habitat for riverine species.  A typical assemblage consists of reed, flag iris, purple loosestrife and water mint; all are excellent sources of pollen for invertebrates and are typically found in lowland eastern waters.

 Whilst there may be some disruption during the works, access to the area that we are working in will be restricted and is the nature of these engineering projects the site may look a little raw post works (we will be reseeding with a meadow mix before we have moved on).  Hopefully in the medium term, this will leave a much better for interesting and diverse river habitat for the local community to enjoy.

The aim was the start this works on the 19th of January; however, works has been delayed until the end of February due to the heavy rain over the festive and New Year period.  Updates on this programme will be posted on this website, with hopefully further news once the project is underway. 

Wednesday 21st January 2015.

Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           

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