|The recently restored wetland habitats at the Woodland
Education Centre were being subjected to massive flooding and siltation. This was
because a leat or man made water channel had fallen into disrepair. As a result,
flood water was no longer diverted along the eastern side of the Centre's steep sided
Before the Leat Project, the Centre's
wetland habitats comprised of Kingfisher Pond, a separate Wetland, Marsh and Lake.
These were created four years earlier as a result of the Wetlands Restoration Project.
The original Leat was constructed in Victorian times when the area
which is now the Woodland Education Centre was the pleasure garden of the Victorian cleric
Bishop Copleston, who was Bishop of Llandaff. The
wetland habitats which were restored were originally the site of two Victorian boating
lakes. Before restoration they had completely disappeared except for a small part of
the lower lake. This was due to extensive siltation which occurred because the Leat
The Leat was dug into the hillside above the lakes to take away
flood water. In time, the Leat became damaged so that it could no longer
function. As a result, the upper lake became completely silted and colonized by
Rhododendron. Only one third of the lower lake remained and this too would soon be
lost. However in 1986 work started which resulted in the restoration of the lower
lake. At the upper lake site a Wetland, a pond (Kingfisher Pond) and a separate
Marsh were created.
By February 1993 the damaging siltation process had started
again. Kingfisher pond, the most northerly of the wetland habitats, became a third
full of silt within a week. If no action had been taken not only would this pond
have been lost but all the other habitats down stream would have once again become
silted. As a short term measure Kingfisher Pond was dug out again by a mechanical
digger. Clearly this problem had to be prevented. The only way to stop the
silting problem in the long term, was to repair the Leat.
The Leat Restoration Project was funded by BT and the Department of
the Environment through the Local Projects Fund (LPF). This is assessed by CSV
Environment and administered by the Civic Trust. The Offwell Woodland and Wildlife
Trust also contributed from its own financial reserves.