Natural quantities of gravel and fine sediments in rivers are an essential ingredient for biodiversity and the health of aquatic ecosystems. Gravel provides habitat for invertebrates but various fish, including salmon, also use it to bury their fertilised eggs.

One of the Foundation’s current projects involves the reintroduction of gravel to a Wye tributary that had its natural source cut off.

In 1904, the Elan dams were completed to provide the West Midlands with a water supply. Since then, gravel in the 7km of the Elan between the lowest dam (Caban Coch) and its confluence with the Wye has been washing downstream in a natural way. However, because of the dams, no new gravel has arrived from upstream to replenish it. This situation was impacting negatively on both the invertebrate and fish populations.

With the support of Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales, the Foundation has been re-introducing river gravel to the Elan just downstream of Caban Coch since 2016.

The objective of the “Gravelling the Elan” (GES) project is therefore to replenish the gravels in the lower 7km of the Elan and to restore its ecological status in so far as this is practical without dam removal.

For more details of the project, including the results so far, please use the links below to view the GES progress reports.

Gravelling the Elan (GES) Project, End of Year 1 Report

Gravelling the Elan (GES) Project, End of Year 2 Report

Gravelling the Elan (GES) Project, End of Year 3 Report

August 2018

Our electrofishing surveys have recorded salmon and trout fry near to Elan Village, showing that both species have used the newly gravelled areas to spawn in.

Read more about the results here.

October 2018

This year's gravel replenishment operation was completed in the first week of October. Just over 1,000 tonnes of gravel was moved from the upper Elan to the introduction site near the Elan Visitor Centre.

This new gravel will be distributed naturally in the Elan by the winter flows.

We are very grateful to our project partners Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales for their support and expertise in this project.