Case study: wetland restoration at Fishlake

Three images of wetlands at Fishlake. It's very green there.

Case study

Spatial scale: Individual site

Project type: Habitat restoration project; PhD

Collaborators: Environment Agency, Animal and Plant Science PhD student Dan Richards

Date: 2009 - present

Project background

The site is currently rough pasture which is of little economic or ecological value.  The restoration project hopes to recreate a 60 hectare wetland adjacent to the River Don which will function as wildlife habitat and a floodwater storage area. This will change the hydrological regime of the area and reduce flooding to nearby urban areas, as well as providing opportunities for recreation.

The following are habitat priorities for the site: grazing marsh, fen, swamps and reedbeds, in-channel and bankside habitats and improved connectivity between river and wetland.  These will provide great benefit to a variety of species such as otters, water voles, lapwing, snipe and other wetland birds. The river habitats will also help eels and declining fish species such as silver bream and dace.


  • Lowering of flood banks to allow more frequent inundations of tidal water
  • Ground engineering to generate variation in relief, leading to areas of varying water coverage
  • Reed planting to create in-channel fish shelters
  • Creation of off-channel fish habitat open to the river

Key findings/outputs

Local residents have been given information about the project, as well as updates about how the project is progressing. At the request of local people, better site access will be incorporated into the designs. Fishlake also forms the focus of a PhD research project based at Sheffield University. This project will investigate the practice of floodplain habitat restoration, focusing on the resulting ecosystem services and benefits for a wide range of people.

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