Soar and Wreake Floodplain - Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife
The River Soar rises in the extreme south of Leicestershire and flows slowly northwards through a shallow valley. Fed by a number of streams and smaller rivers, it grows in size and joins the River Trent.
more than 100 hectares of wetland habitat have been created...
For centuries, the river floodplain (the area liable to be covered in water when the river swells and bursts its banks after heavy rain) was an open landscape of large meadows where hay was grown and cattle and other domesticated animals grazed.
These meadows gradually became a network of small fields, bounded by hedges; settlements at Leicester and Loughborough expanded to become the present cities; the river was 'canalised' so that boats could navigate it; railways and roads were built and gravel pits quarried. The river bed was dredged to encourage flow of water and banks were built to stop the river from spilling over the floodplain. The impact on wildlife of all of this, together with changes in farming practices, was devastating.
The floodplain and its wildlife continue to be threatened by the prospect of more development and increased flooding. The use of the natural floodplain to store water at times of heavy rainfall will both help to reduce the impact of flooding on people’s homes and create good habitats for wildlife too.
There are still some special places in the Soar valley and these are being linked up to the Trust's nature reserves and other sympathetically managed land. The river joins them all together, forming a corridor that wildlife can move along. Many of these places would not survive in isolation - they are dependent upon the floodplain to function naturally, to prevent them drying out and to bring in plant seeds, fish and other animals in the flood water. Some of our wildlife such as the rare black poplar tree needs natural processes such as flooding to create wet bare ground so the tree’s seeds are able to germinate.
Since 2004, more than 100 hectares of wetland habitat have been created resulting in significant increases in populations of dragonflies, grasshoppers and wading birds.
The Trust has also been successful in influencing mineral restoration plans to ensure two quarries are returned to nature conservation.
Start date: 2004
Scheme area: 6,000 hectares
Trust reserves within the scheme
This scheme is helping species including...
Current threats to the landscape
This scheme is also...
Helping wildlife adapt to climate change, improving water quality, reducing flood risk, improving access for people, providing volunteering opportunities
Natural England, Environment Agency, Local Authorities, local landowners