Suffolk horse Roy plays vital role in flood management system

  • A natural flood management scheme has been built in an Essex park with the help of some extra horsepower.

    Contractor Hawthorn Heavy Horses, which is based in Chelmsford, took Suffolk Roy to help fell and move trees to build “leaky” dams in Rise Park Stream at Bedfords Park.

    Roy played a vital role, moving whole tree trunks across the site from the woodlands to the watercourse. The advantage of using whole tree trunks to build the dams is that they recreate a natural process and are very effective at safely slowing the flow of water.

    Roy was able to transport 16 trees to the stream, which volunteers used to build four tree-trunk dams.

    Using heavy horses to move the timber into place rather than heavy machinery offers better protection for the environment, preventing trees and ground being disturbed.

    Leaky dams are a form of natural flood management that help slow the flow of water in times of heavy rain, and reduce surface water flood risk to surrounding properties.

    Each of the dams at the Bedfords Park site has a QR code that if scanned by mobile phone will open the SlowFlow app to show information about the dams and invites users to upload photos of the leaky dams retaining water in “high flow events”.

    The project was put together by The Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme working with Thames21 and the London Borough of Havering.

    The aim of the scheme is to work with nature to restore the natural functioning of river catchments, or, where that is not possible, to mimic natural processes.

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    Thames21 is trialling natural flood management in several areas. The aim is to slow down and store floodwaters at the same time as enhancing the environment for local wildlife.

    Land of the Fanns scheme manager Benjamin Sanderson said: “It’s been great to see the heavy horses back at Bedfords Park local nature reserve contributing to this pilot project funded by the Environment Agency.

    “Volunteers have also been instrumental in helping to build the dams and also suppporting the monitoring work that is vital to see how effective the scheme is.”

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