What on earth, you may well ask, is a coir roll? Effectively the environmentalist’s version of an instant noodle, it’s ready-to-go riverbank: just add water. Preseeded with vegetation, the coir rolls can be attached to the canalised concrete sides of the river, and left to work their magic. A softer riparian fringe is created, providing valuable habitat to the river’s various inhabitants, and it looks better too.
The EA had kindly offered us a cargo of 39 metres of rolls, and we had the perfect spot for them – the large pool below Hackbridge road bridge, a few hundred yards downstream from where we installed a flow deflector last September. And so, in a joint project with the Wandle Trust, a team of volunteers got together on Saturday to enjoy the early Spring sunshine and, under the leadership of Will and Theo, to see what they could come up with.
Will had taken a team of Piscators on a mission to Winkworth Arboretum a couple of months ago, where the National Trust had generously allowed us to harvest chestnut timber for stakes. These were hammered into the river bed either side of the coir rolls to provide anchor points to which to attach the rolls.
Sheer brute force with a sledgehammer seemed to be the order of the day, as demonstrated by Jim above, though Theo and Gideon did have a crack with the upturned-milkchurn-device:
There were a lot of stakes, a lot of carrying, and a lot of hammering, but this was one well-oiled machine and these volunteers were on a serious mission to get stuff done… and enjoy themselves.
Will managed to find a warning cone so large it almost made even him look small, and the girls wielded their hammers with such finesse that it was all the boys could do to look on with awe from the bankside.
It’ll be interesting to see how the rolls develop over the coming months as the vegetation starts to take hold. But for the time being they’re already giving the banks some more feature, and look pretty well done too. As someone pointed out “it’s almost as if we knew what we were doing”.