Work is commencing on two lake and lagoon improvement projects in Poole Park, as part of a £2.7 million National Lottery funded project.
Work has recently started on improving the water quality and biodiversity of the lagoon (boating lake) and the two smaller freshwater lakes to benefit both recreational users and wildlife.
These improvements follow extensive scientific research and monitoring, funded by the National Lottery, and involving students and specialists from Bournemouth University, to help understand the importance of the lagoon and the potential benefits of the work being undertaken. The project has been made possible by National Lottery players through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund.
The contractor, Ebsford Environmental, is using specialist amphibious excavators to dredge areas of sediment lying at the bottom of the lakes and lagoon to increase water depth. The sediment will then be used to create new island habitats and improve existing features.
Further work will then take place to significantly improve the quality of the surrounding environment, including:
- Covering the newly formed islands in either gravel to encourage birds such as gulls and terns or planted to encourage other birds that prefer cover
- Creating a new bird screen and viewing platform close to the railway line providing a view over the habitats
- Using gabion baskets and rock boulders that allow crabs to thrive, and other specialist materials, to retain dredged sediment and provide a stable lake edge for the islands and around the freshwater lake
- Creating experimental floating islands; the roots of the floating island vegetation will trail in the water helping to improve water quality as well as providing refuge for fish and other animals
- Creating an improved landscape for park users around the freshwater lakes such as new tree and shrub planting, benches and picnic table.
These improvements will take approximately 15 weeks to complete.
This week, Avon Construction, has started to carry out improvement works to the bridge over the sluice channel that links the Park’s lagoon to Poole Harbour. This means the path running alongside the railway line is closed to the public until the works finish in around 8 weeks time.
The sluice channel was a key part in the Park’s development following construction of the railway embankment in 1872, cutting off Parkstone Bay from the sea and creating a salt-water lake. The channel maintains the link to salt water in the harbour and allows the management of the water as a sluice-controlled saline lagoon. The monthly exchange of water with Poole Harbour helps to maintain salinity levels in the lagoon and support the rare species that live there, including the Starlet Sea Anemone which is on the IUCN red list and classified as vulnerable (the same status as the red squirrel).
The existing bridge over the sluice gate is a simple concrete slab sat on brick abutments. The brickwork is original to the park and is in good condition but the more modern changes have not fared so well and the bridge has required replacement for several years.
Once all the existing condemned sections are removed, a new lightweight fibre reinforced polymer bridge, will be swung into place, lifted in two pieces. New parapet railings will be installed to both sides of the bridge and the bridge deck resurfaced. The existing Victorian brick piers will be restored and in the future information panels will be added explaining the importance of the sluice channel to Poole Park’s recreation and wildlife.
Martin Whitchurch, Poole Park Life Project Manager, Borough of Poole, said: “It’s exciting to have reached the point where contractors are on site after years of public engagement and design work. We’ve received permission from Natural England to carry out this work so that we can make significant improvements that benefit both people and wildlife.
“Lagoons are relatively rare habitat and Poole Park, as an improving habitat, is becoming increasingly important for specialist lagoon species and provides a wonderful place for the public to engage with wildlife. We would encourage residents to join us on Saturday 9 February at 11am in The Ark car park for a guided walk where you can hear about the works in more detail.”
Cllr John Rampton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Borough of Poole, said: “These improvements, together with those planned over the next few years, will help preserve and enhance this popular and historic park, making a lasting difference to park users and wildlife for many years to come. Hopefully this will form part of our Environmental Strategy for the new conurbation.”