Rehabilitating Windermere’s reed beds (Phragmites australis)
South Cumbria Rivers Trust was the lead partner in the ‘Restore the Shore’ project. The project was one of 19 which fall within the wider Windermere Reflections programme. Windermere Reflections was a 3 year Heritage Lottery funded programme which aimed to increase understanding of environmental issues within Windermere’s Catchment.
Historically, Windermere had substantial beds and swamps of Phragmites australis fringing the majority of the lakes shores and littoral areas. In recent years, these habitats have become threatened through the destructive effects of wave wash from boat bow waves, damage resulting from boat and canoe launching, nutrient enrichment and from grazing (e.g. Canada Geese, ducks and farm animals).
Examples of sites where extensive reed beds have been lost (or almost lost) include;
- Lazy Bay
- Grassholme Island
- Mitchell Wyke Bay
- Borrans Park
- Beeholme Island
- The shores around Bowness (see photos below from the early 19th Century and 2012)
The Restore the Shore project has several phases which aim to deliver the following;
- Produce a current and historic electronic map of the habitat range of Phragmites australis in Windermere.
- Collect samples for artificial propagation of reeds.
- Plant young reeds to facilitate a rehabilitation of reed bed and swamp habitats.
- Protect the existing reed beds with fences and wave barriers
- Distribute information boards at targeted areas to disseminate methods of preventing further reed bed decline.