In a 2009 biodiversity report commissioned by Bristol City Council, it was suggested that Bathurst Basin would be suitable for floating reed beds and kingfisher perches. The mallard and moorhen chicks which have hatched over the last few years have almost immediately been taken by gulls. It would be good to give them a little more protection, as well as provide a habitat for insects.
Many residents will also have seen the news report that the Council has declared that Bristol is facing an ‘ecological emergency’.
FOBB approached the Harbour Master several months ago and our query was passed to his colleague Eric Dougall. He has confirmed that he sees no reason why reed beds would not be permitted, but we have not managed to get written confirmation from either Eric or the Harbour Master to this effect.
FOBB have approached the Hampshire firm of Aquascience Ltd, who installed the reed beds at Hanover Quay and at the Henleaze Swimming Lake. Simon Thurgood of Aquascience has replied to us as follows:
I estimate that the open area between the old lock gates and the Commercial Road bridge is approximately 125 square metres. The water under the bridge will be too shady for most aquatic plants, but there are quite a few species that will do well in the partial shade between the bridge and the old gates.
The narrowest raft unit we can supply off-the-shelf is 1.25m wide x 3.9 metres long, and I would suggest that a minimum of 4 units (total area of about 20 square metres) would be needed to create a useful habit for birds, fish and insects. These units come complete with weldmesh anti-grazing cages which create a protected nesting habitat for moorhens, as well as a safe roost for ducklings. The rough cost of 4 rafts with cages, delivered, planted, installed, would be £2,420 plus VAT. This includes anchorage, though the design will need to be firmed up if you decide to proceed. The anchorage design will allow islands to be detached and moved at any time for maintenance from a small boat.
Perhaps we could also incorporate the odd kingfisher perch in the rafts.
The main problem with proceeding at this stage is the potential cost. The community would need to support this project to enable it to proceed. A member of the boating community has already indicated that he is happy to cope with the cleaning and maintenance, as they will need to be kept free of litter.
These will not be manicured floating gardens, although we presume that some management will be necessary. They will be similar to those at Hanover Quay, which were installed by the same firm and managed by a group of local volunteers: messy in winter and more attractive in the spring.
We will be emailing FOBB members and other local residents to see what support exists for reed beds in the Basin. With sufficient support we will invite Simon Thurgood to visit the site to firm up the proposals, and then push the Council for permission to proceed.