Floodplain Restoration at Elbury Farm

Devon, 24 September 2019

Simon Bates, Ecological Restoration and Habitat Creation SIG

Floodplain restoration was the subject of an excellent joint CIEEM and National Trust field workshop at Elbury Farm, Killerton Estate, Devon on 24th September 2019. The event was organised by SW committee member Simon Bates and wildlife advisor for NT, Mike Ingram. Twenty-seven people attended and by the end of the day, “knowledge of floodplain restoration for biodiversity” had increased from ‘moderate’ to ‘good’. Understanding on soils was a particular winner, with field analysis and discussion led by Dr Richard Smith from the Environment Agency.

After an overview of the farm from Phil Stuckey (National Trust Lead Ranger), there followed presentations on: managing a floodplain grazing marsh (Pete Otley, RSPB Site Manager); plant communities of mineral soil floodplain meadows and some restoration techniques (Simon Barker, National Trust Wildlife Adviser & Floodplain Meadows Partnership Ambassador); and water  permissions and consents (Jess Bishop, Devon County Council Senior Flood and Coastal Risk Officer).

Delegates were challenged to come up with a brief management plan for the 25 ha restoration from predominantly species-poor floodplain grassland, to something far more biodiverse. It looks likely that the local NT team will go with a ‘Knepp-style’ approach, allowing hedges to billow out, scrub and ultimately woodland to develop, with perhaps pockets of fen-like vegetation. Brown hairstreak butterfly might be one clear winner!