Scrapes 2 and 3 of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s ABBA project will be backwaters lying alongside Lambrok Stream. A backwater is essentially a shallow pond connected to a waterway, providing still-water habitat away from the flow and turbulence of the main stream.
In the past, natural backwaters were meanders that had become isolated from the main river, but man-made drainage systems and modern land management practices filled in or drained the pools and the wildlife was lost. Rivers and streams straightened out to hurry floodwater downstream or feed now-defunct water meadows don’t create backwaters; they need our help.
These sites have been carefully chosen with the permission of the Environment Agency, which classes Lambrok Stream as a main river. The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust water team have measured the slopes and levels of the bank to ensure the scrape will operate properly and have designed its connection to the stream to avoid both erosion and excessive silting. They know that upstream, the Lambrok’s water quality is improving, reducing the possibility that pollution or agricultural run-off will accumulate in the silt in the backwaters, damaging wildlife.
In Lambrok Meadow, the two new backwaters will create marginal habitat for insects, plants and birds, and still-water refuges for fish and their fry when floodwaters threaten to sweep them away from their home territories.
This is for the long term. At the moment it all looks raw and unfinished, a blot on a well known and well loved landscape, but the wildlife will come and the reserve will add the finishing touches all by itself.