Community Action for the Cut

The Cut is a 2.7km river that flows through Berkshire. Like most English rivers, it is failing to meet good ecological status – primarily due to pollution and physical modification challenges. The section of the river that flows through Garth Meadows is heavily shaded and artificially modified. This is having a significant impact on the wildlife that reside in the Cut, the flow of the river and people’s enjoyment of the river.

The Cut at Garth Meadows – a straight channelised section with little flow and in-channel habitat diversity.

In order to address these challenges, we will work in collaboration with the local community and partners to improve the Cut and its surrounding area by actions such as adding woody material to the river, removing waste from its banks, and clearing channels to existing wetland pools in the bank area.

This project is funded by Thames Water through the Rivers & Wetlands Community Days programme and will address the issues present at the Cut by:

  • Enabling volunteer-led action and engaging community members to access and advocate for their local green/blue spaces through community events, helping to build a treasured and maintained community space within local nature.
  • Facilitating free ‘Leading Action for Healthy Rivers’ community training – an accredited course that enables community members to set up their own self-led river action groups and provides the necessary knowledge to safely and effectively led future volunteer events, building a legacy for the project.
  • Restoring ~0.85km of the Cut, as it flows through Garth Meadows (a public open space in an otherwise urban and highly residential area) and surrounding wet woodland/wetland habitats.

Community-led restoration events will focus on:

  • Thinning vegetation that is out-shading large sections of the channel, increasing access to light and aquatic vegetation growth.
  • Adding woody deflectors and natural features to the river to encourage a wider diversity and more natural flows.
  • Installing a series of kingfisher tunnels to create habitat for local populations, a priority-listed species within the Bracknell Forest BAP.
  • Clearance of litter and artificial debris from the channel to promote more natural flow.

1.1     Benefits to Communities

Participation in community days will be offered, with community mapping exercises occurring beforehand to ensure engagement is representative of the wider community and increase awareness of the Cut.

Thames21’s accredited free ‘Leading Action for Healthy Rivers’ course will train and upskill up to 12 local community members to lead safe events. Upon completion, participants are supported through the process of establishing local river action groups which will encourage the continuation of community action, providing an ongoing legacy for the project.

Following a successful outfall safari in Bracknell in June 202, the first outside London, a group of community members were motivated to improve local watercourses. The project will build on this enthusiasm and increase local river-related engagement, which hasn’t previously been optimised. These events offer the opportunity of enhanced well-being, confidence and new skills for community members.

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