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Hamp Brook | Somerset

A nature reserve on a piece of agricultural land on the fringe of Bridgwater in Somerset.

The site is a series of rough grazing paddocks in the floodplain marsh southwest of the town centre. The land is divided by rhynes, ditches and scrubby tree belts, and forms part of the open levels running west from Durleigh. As the town has grown this undeveloped, low-lying land has remained as a substantial, open, green wedge within the built fabric of the town. Used for summer grazing when the water table is low enough to permit stock access without poaching the soil, and for low-key community recreation.

 

The land abuts a wider and similar piece of landscape now the subject of management by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) called The Meads Eco Park.

 

Our approach to the design was to enhance the biodiversity of the site by careful management and selective intervention after first identifying the site’s habitat potential.  Removing recreational use from the majority of the site meant that leisure activities could be concentrated in the best-connected zone while protecting other areas from ad hoc dog walking and permitting a safer space for wildlife and ground nesting birds.  Stopping up the drainage runs also permitted much better retention of water and more waterlogging of the soil to re-establish more natural floodplain.  This in turn would lead to the establishment of a greater diversity in herbaceous marginal flora.   Repollarding existing willows and planting more trees for willow carr and damp oak woodland would increase the woodland habitat, while helping to prevent casual access and provide a greater textural diversity across the site.

Key features

  • Nature reserve 
  • Low-key community recreation
  • Habitat potential

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