Habitat restoration at Bonfield Gill

Our Ryevitalise team have been working with upland livestock farmers, Trudy and David Sanderson, to restore natural river processes at Bonfield Gill - a tributary of the River Riccal flowing into the River Rye.

To achieve this, the gill was reconnected with the surrounding floodplain and natural features, which were lost as a result of the devastating 2005 floods, were recreated.

Along sections of the gill, large woody material (pictured) was installed to blend in with the local setting and help improve the diversity of the watercourse by creating pools and encouraging more sinuosity – this supports a greater variety of flora and fauna both in and adjacent to the water.

Large woody material, such as logs in a river. A male is inspecting them from the river bank. Credit Charlie Fox.

Large woody material, such as logs, in a river. A female is inspecting them and leaning on one of the logs. Credit Charlie Fox.Trudy Sanderson (upland livestock farmers) kneeling in front of a stone bridge and river. Credit Charlie Fox.

Such work wouldn’t have been possible without Trudy and David, as well as the National Trust.

“My husband and I are upland livestock farmers involved in the Ryevitalise project. Working in partnership with the National Park Authority has enabled us to enhance wildlife habitats and improve water quality and natural flood management in the tributaries of the Rye where we farm.

"As custodians of the land, we are excited to see new growth in the trees and hedges that have been planted and restored. Altering land drainage has prevented soil erosion, instead creating a wet area, where we are looking forward to seeing benefits to upland birds in the spring breeding season.”

Trudy Sanderson

Portrait of Trudy Sanderson (upland livestock farmer). Credit Charlie Fox.

The Ryevitalise scheme works with our partners, landowners and farmers to deliver targeted river restoration works helping improve watercourses within the River Rye catchment for the benefit of all.

The scheme is made possible thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The installation of woody materials at Bonfield Gill also received funding from Arqiva.

Management Plan

This projects supports the following management plan objectives:

Icon showing a hand holding a seedling in soil

Outcome 1: A resilient landscape at the forefront of addressing climate change and nature recovery.

Objective 5: Achieve good ecological status for all water bodies by 2027 and support the improvement of the marine and coastal habitat.

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Outcome 2: A nature rich, more biodiverse landscape

Objective 6: Create bigger, better and more joined-up habitats, with nature-rich wildlife corridors extending beyond the National Park boundaries.

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