The Parks Trust develops refuge for fish in Milton Keynes

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The Parks Trust has joined forces with the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust to create a 30 metre long refuge (back water) for fish along the River Ouzel at Woughton.

It was developed using an old, silted up channel that was once part of the main river.

The Parks Trust, experts in land management, are well aware that as a result of the quick run-off into the river from the hard surfaces associated with an urban setting, the local rivers suffer from flash rises and flooding. This leads to small and young fish being potentially washed away or killed and subsequently contributes to the fish stocks struggling to replenish themselves.

The new back water will provide a place for fish, particularly fry and yearlings, to take shelter in when needed. As the river increases in flow, fish will be able to move into this area and out of the main flow, so they can maintain their strength, while not being washed downstream.

It will also have some wider benefits for the local wildlife; providing wood in the channel for habitat creation and attracting invertebrates, such as dragonflies and damselflies as well as birds including kingfishers.

Rob Riekie, landscape and operations director for The Parks Trust, commented: “The level of successful breeding by fish populations in the River Ouzel (particularly barbel, chub, dace and roach) is low, with the quickly rising river levels and flash flooding one of the key reasons for this. Rather than just adding more fish to the river, we believe that creating refuges such as this one will have a long-term positive impact on the numbers of fish in the area.