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Willow weave answer to river erosion

WILLOWBANK EROSION & Conservation Services has launched its new illustrated booklet, The Willowbank guide to riverbank restoration and repair.

The company is promoting the use of soft engineering techniques for stopping erosion and restoring banksides of rivers and lakes as a less expensive green alternative to the hard options of concrete, stone, steel and timber.

It recently held an open day on a short stretch of the River Axe in east Devon to show the first season's growth of willow on an Environment Agency South West sponsored trials site.

Willowbank carried out willow spiling, which dates back at least to the Middle Ages. It involves driving living stakes of willow into the toe of the river bank and then weaving wands of fresh cut willow between them to form a continuous new edging to the river bank.

Backfill is then placed behind the barriers. Within a single season the strands of willow root themselves in the bankside and the upright stakes start to form new trees. This creates a strong erosion barrier that continues to grow to give long lasting protection.

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