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.
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. 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 results, in terms of invertebrates and fish, have been very encouraging.
For more details of the Elan gravel project, including the results so far, please use the links below to view news items and progress reports published by the Foundation.
Project progress reports
We are very grateful to our project partners Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Elan Valley Trust, Welsh Government and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for their support and expertise in this project.