Cheddar Reservoir - habitat improvement options

 
Daniel Watson
 
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Daniel Watson
Total Posts:  59
Joined  18-02-2018
 
 
 
10 February 2019 11:42
 

Cheddar Reservoir is an understandably popular site for multiple users. Amenities are well in place for sailing and fishing, and is a regular location for dog walkers which are suitably accommodated by several litter bins. One area which I feel is severely lacking is any form of provision for biodiversity - admittedly the site primarily serves as a container of water for human consumption, however, as outlined facilities for other users have been taken into account. The sailing club and fishermen contribute financially as a result of their activities, however with no parking charges, there is no financial input from general public/dog-walkers however they have still been catered for by Bristol Water (please note I am not recommending the implementation of a parking charge!).
The shoreline is sprayed with herbicide, resulting in an absence of emergent vegetation, and limited aquatic vegetation. Disturbance by free running dogs is a constant problem, but is of a minor concern when looking at the site from a ecosystem perspective. Birds are used as a proxy measure for eco-system health, and from a perspective of breeding species, things are looking pretty dire.
Last year no water birds bred at the reservoir, with the only recently fledged birds noted being Mallard which bred on a nearby stream. The site is still of regional importance for wintering waterbirds, though their numbers are somewhat diminished relative to numbers 10-20 years ago (e.g. Coot, with a high count of 713 on 6th December rising to just over 1000 at present).
An easy and relatively affordable way to increase diversity would be the provision of a tern-raft, which can either be bought for £700 - £2000 (depending on size) or constructed (https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/conservation-and-sustainability/advice/conservation-land-management-advice/nesting-rafts/standard-raft/) potentially for a smaller amount. A raft coupled with a floating vegetation bed (https://www.aquaticengineering.co.uk/floating-reedrafts/) would significantly improve diversity at the reservoir, providing an area for several bird species to nest, and also habitat for aquatic invertebrates, with limited management required by Bristol Water.
Given the excellent work they have undertaken at many of their other sites to increase biodiversity, I wondered if there would be any interest in members, or indeed the SOS itself in engaging in a dialog to look at options?