World Wetlands Day

Ramsar’s World Wetlands Day takes place today and this year’s theme is Urban wetlands making cities liveable. To honour this day, we felt it appropriate not only to discuss the benefits of urban wetlands, but also to detail some of the interesting and important work that we carry out in relation to urban wetlands.

What are urban wetlands

Urban wetlands found in and around cities and their suburbs are land areas that are flooded with water. They are either seasonal or permanent and can be both natural and constructed/created. Natural wetlands include rivers and their flood plains, lakes, swamps and peatlands, as well as coastal variants such as salt marshes, mangroves and coral reefs. Constructed/created wetlands are often built for the purposes of treating wastewater, storm water, acid mine drainage and agricultural runoff.

Ecosystem services

Sustainable urban development is believed to integrate the retention, restoration and management of wetlands. Four billion people live in urban areas today and that is expected to increase. We are therefore becoming increasingly reliant on ecosystem services.

Wetlands provide a wealth of ecosystem services we benefit and rely on including improved urban air quality, reduction in flooding, waste filtration, improved water quality, drinking water replenishment, carbon sequestration and the promotion of human health through the preservation of green spaces.

Urban wetlands and JBA

Through the years we have proudly contributed to numerous urban wetland jobs ranging from the modelling of flood risk before and after wetland creation to feasibility studies, wetland design and construction. Below are a few examples of some of the jobs we have been involved in delivering.

Billing Brook Restoration, Northampton

Since their creation in the 1970s, the three lakes along Billing Brook have suffered from infilling with significant volumes of sediment. Billing Brook is vulnerable to drying out due to unfavourable geological and soil conditions and is also prone to very rapid responses after heavy rainfall events.

Three restoration options were highlighted in our 2017 study including full river restoration and a dredging programme to renew the lakes. We have since created designs for the restoration of the lakes, including the creation of new wetland habitat which will contribute to public enjoyment.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Dublin

JBA Ireland are currently conducting an attenuation and flood study on three public parks in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown for the County Council. This project is still on going and is currently in the design phase. The attenuation ponds within the parks will not only provide flood protection for the surrounding area, but the proposed wetland planting within the ponds will also offer wildlife habitat, water filtration and improve the appearance of the ponds in the parks.

YOKER Natural Flood Management

Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership, on behalf of Glasgow City Council and East Dunbartonshire Council, commissioned us to undertake a natural flood management (NFM) study for the Yoker area, which falls within a Potentially Vulnerable Area. The study identified locations where NFM interventions were likely to have the biggest impact on the reduction of urban flooding downstream.

Proposed NFM across the study area included opening up the floodplain to include riparian wetland areas and non-floodplain wetlands adjacent to roads that would attenuate overland flows and encourage the formation of a wider range of habitats. Floodplain restoration and the introduction of instream structures in an area of wet woodland was also suggested.

Adwick Washlands, South Yorkshire

20 hectares of wetland habitat at the Adwick washlands on a site that was formerly arable farmland were designed by us. The work was done in partnership with the RSPB and the Dearne Valley Green Heart Partnership (DVGH).

Primarily wet grassland was included in the design which is a priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat and a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) priority habitat. Reedbed (UKBAP and LBAP) habitat, fen (UKBAP habitat) and open water (LBAP habitat) were also created as part of the scheme. In addition to the improvement in wildlife habitat, the wetlands will also be able to improve the natural flood reduction function of the washlands for downstream residents.

Want to know more?

Email Steve Maslen, Head of Environment, for more information about any of the projects above. You can also visit our environmental services web page.

Why not take a look at our ecology and environment training courses? Topics include environmental awareness, fundamentals of hydroecology and SuDs and biodiversity.

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