February 16, 2022 11.52 am

Dyson Farming project to ‘restore natural function’ of Dunston Beck nearing completion

The project has cost £170,000

A year-long project run by Dyson Farming to restore and improve Dunston Beck has moved into phase two, aiming to boost biodiversity on the limestone site in rural Lincolnshire.

The Dunston Beck Project is a collaborative effort between Dyson Farming, the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust which began in February 2021, with he objective of “restoring the natural function” of the Beck, while also increasing pool areas to improve aquatic life.

It has taken place on a three-hectare stretch of land by Dunston Fen Lane, Prior Lane and Dunston Beck between Metheringham and Woodhall Spa.

The riverbed improvements will benefit numerous fish species such as brown trout and aquatic plants, while the back channels and ponds will also be great for bird species, and the project as a whole will make the space more “resilient” to climate change.

How the area looked before the project began. | Photo: Wild Trout Trust

In the year since works began, the land and Beck itself have been restored following years of land drainage, which has seen it straightened, widened and deepened, and the river itself has been extended by 70m.

Sensitive excavation on site allowed for bends to be put back into the channel to create a variety in depths and flow patterns, improving water quality in the process.

During the project, as bends were added to the river for added flood relief. | Photo: Wild Trout Trust

The total cost of the project is around £170,000, and it is expected to be complete at some point this month. The months following will see the site drilled with a local seed mix, while those in charge of the project continue to monitor wildlife and the water at the Beck.

It is believed that this work will treble the hydraulic habitat area under the same flow conditions, with 1.9 hectares of the 3 hectare site will be seasonally wetted to provide high quality wetland habitat.

Months of ecological surveys took place, and these works should result in a cleaner Beck. | Photo: Wild Trout Trust

Ian Willoughby, Environmental Coordinator, Dyson Farming, said: “Not only does this restorative work enhance important niche habitats such as the aquatic life within the beck but at a land parcel level the floristic sward, grazed with sheep increases the number of insects that has wider benefits at a landscape level with species such as bats that have maternal roosts in the adjacent landscape features of Nocton Wood.”

Project manager for the Wild Trout Trust, Tim Jacklin said: ​We’re delighted to have been involved in the development and delivery of this project along with our project partners. Creating more natural areas alongside our rivers and streams has so many benefits.

As well as making them simply nicer places to be, it provides more space for water and better wildlife habitats, making our landscapes more resilient to climate change and boosting biodiversity.”