The Parks Trust, the self-financing charity that manages and maintains over 5,000 acres of Milton Keynes’ green space, has in partnership with the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust, created a 30 metre long refuge (back water) for fish along the River Ouzel at Woughton.
It was created using an old, silted up channel that was once part of the main river.
The Parks Trust, experts in land management, are well aware that as a result of the quick run-off into the river from the hard surfaces associated with an urban setting, the local rivers suffer from flash rises and flooding. This leads to small and young fish being potentially washed away or killed and subsequently contributes to the fish stocks struggling to replenish themselves.
The new back water will provide a place for fish, particularly fry and yearlings, to take shelter in when needed. As the river increases in flow, fish will be able to move into this area and out of the main flow (their senses and memory will help get them there), so they can maintain their strength, while not being washed downstream.
It will also have some wider benefits for the local wildlife; providing wood in the channel for habitat creation and attracting invertebrates, such as dragonflies and damselflies as well as birds including kingfishers.
Rob Riekie, Landscape and Operations Director for The Parks Trust, commented: “The level of successful breeding by fish populations in the River Ouzel (particularly barbel, chub, dace and roach) is low, with the quickly rising river levels and flash flooding one of the key reasons for this. Rather than just adding more fish to the river, we believe that creating refuges such as this one will have a long-term positive impact on the numbers of fish in the area.
“We welcomed the opportunity to partner with the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust on this project; it was great to bring together our collective expertise to improve conditions for the fish and other forms of wildlife along the River Ouzel.”