Restoration of Madley Moat

The moat was almost completely shrouded by a canopy of trees to the extent that viewed from a distance the public did not always realise there was a moat there. The water was dark and murky and fly tipping had taken place previously. Willows were growing in the water and there was plenty of dead wood. Despite all this, the survey found great crested newt eggs.

The site is a listed ancient monument, (though not scheduled) but the county archaeologist felt unsure of its history because of the small size of the island. This did mean there were restrictions in what management work could take place:

  • No digging or de-silting because of disruption to silt layers which might hold historical information
  • Protection of the banks from erosion during work
  • No pulling out of established willow by the roots because of disruption of silt layers.

The management plan aimed to create open water to encourage more vegetation and invertebrate diversity. It consisted of clearing the fringe of willows from the southern (sunny) side to open it up, cutting down and treating willows growing in the water with herbicide, and thinning the big crack willow. A felling license was obtained as the quantity of wood was close to falling into these restrictions if it was taken off-site. A bat survey was also undertaken and although no evidence was found, trees were marked for retention that might provide bat roost habitat.

Work took place in late August and September with dramatic effect. The contractor felled and chipped wood. Volunteers raked dead wood from the water and banks, coppiced smaller stands and manned a fire, built habitat piles and planted up the bare banks to speed up the re-vegetation process.

At a later stage, a herbicide license was obtained and a contractor bought in to re-cut and treat stumps of willow in an attempt to prevent re-growth, particularly those growing in the water. A very small patch of bulrush (Typha) existed in the pond, which the local volunteers wanted to keep and manage to prevent colonisation of the rest of the pond.Some fixed-point photography was agreed to ensure that boundaries were established for the bulrush expansion.