In 2010 Earth Trust acquired 35 hectares of land next to the River Thames. As well as adding 2.5km of Thames frontage to the Earth Trust portfolio, this land provided a golden opportunity to create a unique wetland landscape. River of Life is an ambitious project that will ‘re-wild’ this stretch of the Thames.
Wetland habitats are considered to be amongst some of the most biologically significant in the world, yet they are decreasing at a rapid rate, causing many species to decline. This new habitat - including backwaters, ponds, reedbeds, grassland, woodland and fen - will benefit a wide range of wetland and woodland species and will link directly to an existing international Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Little Wittenham Wood, which has an important population of great crested newts.
But the benefits aren’t limited to conservation - local people are encouraged to visit and enjoy this fantastic greenspace, and the new features will contribute to alleviating local flooding.
The completed project will provide 150ha of quality habitat on the banks of the Thames, including wetland, wet woodland, and species-rich grassland, all set within an agricultural landscape. The land surrounding the project will continue to be farmed and will provide a fantastic example for how integrated countryside management can be successful.
The work is being carried out in three phases:
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Hard landscaping, such as digging out the new backwaters and ponds.
Soft landscaping like planting reedbeds and carrying out the grassland restoration.
Access and interpretation: permissive footpaths, boardwalks and bird hides.