River Ouse at Sheffield Park
There's always something going on behind the scenes at Sheffield Park to help conserve and restore the Park and Garden for future generations. Discover more about how we are trying to restore the River Ouse and flood meadow as part of our latest conservation project.
Restoring the River Ouse and flood meadow
The River Ouse starts in the High Weald, flowing through Sheffield Park on its way to the sea at Newhaven. Over time the river has been modified as industry and land use has changed around it. Examples of these changes can be seen at Sheffield Park in our Wildlife Haven, where straightening and deepening of the river have left three meander loops cut off from the channel.
These changes were part of a larger plan to improve navigation on the Ouse in the late 1700’s, something the first Earl of Sheffield was very interested in, using his political influence to help get the Ouse Navigation Act passed in 1791.
The Earl built Irongates lock to aid navigation through the Sheffield Park estate, and recent survey work has produced this fantastic laser scan of the lock remains;
Produced by www.archaeovision.eu
Despite the efforts of parliament and local communities, navigation was never fully achieved on the Ouse, and quickly died out when the railway was established. The river, however, was left straightened, deepened and disconnected from its floodplain, impacting on the local wildlife.
In order to restore the natural fauna and flora of the river, Sheffield Park is embarking on a restoration project to improve the river and floodplain, and re-connect the Ouse to its local communities. The project hopes to encourage natural processes back onto the site, improving habitats for river and terrestrial species.
Over the next year we will be carrying out a range of surveys on the river and floodplain, so keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved.
What else is going on behind the scenes at Sheffield Park and Garden?
- Ongoing innovation in planting, labelling and landscape design
- Developing historical planting
- Plant health mitigation and climate change
- Maintenance of lake edges to prevent collapse
- Restoring historic ponds on the parkland
- Opening up of historic woodland areas