British Trust for Ornithology

British Trust for Ornithology

A complete package


British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Project Objective

To sustainably repair breaches to the Little Ouse’s course in order to protect a valuable nesting habitat and create feeding scrapes.

Project Description

In 1994 the BTO’s Nunnery Lake Reserve had the course of the Little Ouse, which bisects the site, restored to its original pattern of meanders. Subsequent erosion had led to the banks being breached, flooding sections of the site and rendering it unsuitable for the Reserve’s breeding waders - Lapwing, Redshank and Little Ringed Plover.

On receipt of European Transnational Ecological Network (TEN) funding Water-Lines were commissioned to repair the two breaches in an environmentally sustainable fashion by raising the banks some 300mm. The company chose to employ a traditional technique using coir rolls and faggots to protect the slightly elevated banks. The backfill was then capped by a fully biodegradable turf reinforcement mat (to encourage plant growth) and the raised banks temporarily fenced using sheep netting to deter the geese grazing. This development also created four small wet scrapes ideal for feeding.

Products involved

Pre-established coir rolls with iris, reeds and sedges, faggot bundles and a totally biodegradable turf reinforcement mat (NAG C125BN) onto which a separate mix of grasses and marginal plants was applied.


Although it is early days, breeding success has improved, the scrapes’ water levels are holding up, but the acid test will come over winter.


A complete package; Special solution with multiple benefits; Timely operation during the narrow window between the river’s winter floodwater abating and the birds breeding season.

Project Summary

Products Used

  • Erosion Control
  • Habital Creation

Project Features

  • Watercourses

Project Nature

  • Turnkey
  • Medium
  • Problem solution

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