Reedbed

Habitat Description

Reedbeds are wetland habitats dominated by stands of common reed, classified as NVC community S4. Those areas where the water level in the reedbed remains high (20cm above the surface) in the summer months are referred to as reedswamp and those where the water table is at or below the surface are referred to as reedfen. For the purposes of this HAP, it is considered important to distinguish wet reedbed from reed-dominated fen due to its association with the bittern.

  In Northamptonshire reedbeds are very restricted in size and are mainly associated with the margins of open water bodies, particularly flooded gravel pits. Isolated pockets of reedbed exist at Stortons Gravel Pits, Billing Sewage Treatment Works, Higham Ferrers Gravel Pits and Stanwick Lakes. Map A below shows the extent of the current reedbed resource (green) and areas identified with potential for reedbed creation (red), mainly following gravel extraction in the Earls Barton West area. Map B shows the existing reedbed resource in the Higham Ferrers and Stanwick areas.

Current UK Status and Trends

There are about 5000 ha of reedbeds in the UK, but of the 900 or so sites contributing to this total, only about 50 are greater than 20 ha, and these make a large contribution to the total area. As much as 45% of the reedbed resource existing in 1945 may have since been lost. Some large new reedbeds are now being created in the UK following aggregate quarrying.

Estimated Current Northants Resource

25-30 hectares, with most in small blocks and reed fringes of less than 1ha apiece.

Progress Towards BAP Targets 2002-2007

Negotiations are under way to create a large new area of reedbed in the Earls Barton West area, as part of a wider wetland mosaic, following proposed aggregate extraction. Volunteers have cleared encroaching scrub from a small reedbed at Stanwick.

Lead Partner

RSPB

Main Issues and Threats

  • Small size and fragmentation.
  • Inappropriate management or neglect leading to drying out and scrub encroachment.
  • Reduction in water quality and an increase in the incidence of pollution, both point source and diffuse.
  • Challenge of achieving high quality reedbed creation over sufficiently large areas (>20 hectares) on sand and gravel sites in the Nene Valley.

General Strategy

  • Ensure existing reedbeds are not damaged by inappropriate development, and are brought into favourable management where necessary.
  • Identify opportunities to create new reedbeds, ideally of a size (>20 hectares) and quality suitable to attract the full range of specialised species that rely on them.
  • The main target area to create new reedbed is the Earls Barton West area. Smaller-scale opportunities to develop fringing reedbeds around existing lakes may occur elsewhere in the county.

Associated National Priority Species

  • Bittern
  • Common cuckoo
  • Common grasshopper warbler
  • Common starling
  • Harvest mouse
  • Otter (see species action plan)
  • Reed bunting
  • The crescent (moth)
  • Water Vole (see species action plan)
Specific Management Required for Associated Species

Species

Northamptonshire Status

Management Prescriptions

Key Sites

Bittern

Very rare (1 individual)

Requires large areas of reedbed with a high ratio of water's edge to reed, and good populations of small fish.

Stanwick Lakes

Targets

Target Code

Target Type

Target Description

Target Units

Northants Baseline Resource

Target

By

Unit Cost £

Total Cost £

NOR_RBD_T1

Maintain Extent

Maintain the current extent and quality of wet reedbeds by 2015.

Hectares

30

No Loss

2015

60/ha/yr

1,800/yr

NOR_RBD_T2

Achieving Condition

Maintain the condition of wet reedbed habitat where already LWS standard and establish by 2015, management to ensure LWS condition for all areas of targeted reedbed currently not designated LWS.

Hectares

2.5

30

2015

60/ha/yr

Included in the above figure

NOR_RBD_T3

Expansion

Establish 50 ha of wet reedbed from land of low nature conservation interest by 2015.

Hectares

0

50

2015

1,361/ha + 380/ha/yr

68,050 initial + 19,000/yr

Actions

Action Code

Action Description

Lead Partner

Support Partner(s)

Related Target

NOR_RBD_SU_A1

Identify the current extent of BAP-defined reedbed by June 2009.

NBRC

Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

NOR_RBD_T1

NOR_RBD_CA_A2

Provide management advice to landowners of current reedbeds to maintain condition by 2010.

The Wildlife Trust, RSPB

Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

NOR_RBD_T1

NOR_RBD_SP_A3

Respond to all planning applications and other proposals subject to a consenting scheme where these have the potential to damage or destroy the features of interest of a reedbed designated as LWS or SSSI.

The Wildlife Trust

RSPB

NOR_RBD_T1

NOR_RBD_HS_A4

By 2015 establish management to ensure LWS condition for all areas of targeted reedbed currently not designated LWS.

The Wildlife Trust

Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

NOR_RBD_T2

NOR_RBD_HC_A5

Help mineral companies and landowners establish 20-30 ha of wet reedbed suitable for high priority breeding birds, mammals and invertebrates in the Earls Barton area by 2015, including through the restoration of the Ecton estate following sand and gravel quarrying.

RSPB

Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

NOR_RBD_T3

NOR_RBD_CA_A6

Advise planning authorities, landowners and mineral companies on creating high quality reedbed as part of applications for mineral quarrying in the Earls Barton area, to contribute to an overall long-term target beyond 2015 of 100-130 hectares.

RSPB

The Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Environment Agency

NOR_RBD_T3