Good Practice Vegetation Management

Vegetation is a natural part of river ecosystems providing shade and cover; promoting bank stability; enhancing physical in-channel features; providing an input of woody debris; filtering sediment and serving as a source of nutrients to support fauna and flora. Management of vegetation in and alongside watercourses is currently undertaken for a range of purposes including agriculture, recreation and flood risk management. Where management is required to maintain the use of the channel, good practise vegetation management measures promote activities which support diversity of vegetation, allow nautral regeneration and prevent the spread of non-native, invasive species.

Invasive plant species are non-native organisms that successfully establish themselves in native ecosystems. Invasive non-native species are not subject to their natural competitors or predators in their new habitats and are therefore able to dominate or out-compete native species reducing diversity and ecological quality. Techniques for controlling non-native plant species include hand removal, cutting, spraying, and replanting with desirable native species.

Where riparian vegetation management is required to maintain a use of the channel, sensitive management helps to maintain the structure and diversity of the riparian zone which has an important habitat value and also influences conditions within the channel. Forward planning of timing and methods used to manage vegetation should be considered.

The purpose of in-channel vegetation management must be clearly reviewed to identify whether any intervention is required. Consideration should first be given to ceasing maintenance and allowing natural recovery. Where in-channel works are deemed to be required, the timing, extent and methods of management should be carefully planned to minimise impact on ecological quality.