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A collaborative project to bring life back to the River Gaywood in King’s Lynn

Hidden Heritage of the Gaywood River

Published: Friday, 1st February 2019

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), a collaborative project is underway to bring back life to a stretch of the River Gaywood, which runs through the Lynnsport site, for the community to enjoy.

Developed in partnership with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, King’s Lynn Internal Drainage Board, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency, Norfolk Rivers Trust is undertaking restoration work on a 1 km stretch of the River Gaywood. This urban section, which flows between the A148 Wooton Road and the Allotment Gardens at the end of Swan Lane in King’s Lynn, has a historically modified channel and a silty riverbed.

Short sections of coir rolls, an alternative to hard engineered bank stabilisation, will be installed within the river channel at the base of steep banks. Pre-planted with a mix of native wetland edge plants, these rolls will enable vegetation to establish rapidly, thereby increasing bank stability, alleviating erosion and creating a more diverse river edge for invertebrates and cover for juvenile fish. On steeper banksides, the coir rolls will be placed on top of each other to provide a more natural profile. This will reduce the bank gradient and will improve the aesthetic value. Furthermore, the coir rolls will narrow the channel to create sections with an improved flow and reduce build-up of sediment within the river. Rebecca Banks, Project Manager at Norfolk Rivers Trust, explained: "By restoring this stretch of the river to protect the banks and increase habitat availability, quality and flow diversity, it can once again become a thriving home for riverine wildlife, and a valuable amenity for the local community to enjoy."

The River Gaywood itself is a rare chalk stream that runs through the rural Norfolk countryside before entering King’s Lynn and discharging into the Great Ouse. With just over 200 found across the world, these exceptional ecosystems, which are supplied with mineral-rich water from underground chalk aquifers, provide a habitat haven for a large variety of fauna and flora including water vole and brown trout, as well as a variety of mayflies and damselflies. By restoring and protecting these systems, it is hoped that a greater amount and diversity of wildlife can be supported in the area.

This restoration work forms part of the ‘Hidden Heritage of the Gaywood River’ project. Other elements include: planting over 100 trees; sowing around 120kg of seeds; creating a new disabled-access path, pond dipping platforms and street furniture; and installing interpretation boards and plaques. Norfolk Rivers Trust, in addition to the river work, has also undertaken species and habitat surveys to provide valuable information for the project. The level of interest in this project has been significant; over 330 volunteers have got involved with various aspects.

Published on behalf of the Norfolk Rivers Trust.

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