Doffcocker: Reeds and Trees

Doffcocker LNR 11th March 2024 – Reedbed Management

Doffcocker Lodge Reedbed


Redbeds have been one of the UK’s fastest declining habitats. Historically reeds were used for thatching, which because it was a widespread practice helped to maintain the health and extent of reedbeds, but as slate and other materials replaced reeds the maintenance of the beds lapsed and they began to decline. Some beds are still managed for thatch but it is only on a small scale.

In recent years reedbeds have had a renaissance for both commercial and conservation purposes. Reedbeds are excellent water filters and can be used in sewage treatment, but they only have a lifespan of 5-15 years depending on the effluent load that flows through them. For us the value in reedbeds lies in their importance to conservation.

Reedbeds support around 700 species of invertebrate plus many species of bird, amphibian, mammal and fish; bittern, water rail, reed bunting, reed warbler, water shrew, otter, to name a few. Not all of these are found in Bolton but Doffcocker does have a fine collection of warblers and has been visited by bittern.

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting

Forty years ago BCV planted a few square metres of phragmites rhizomes, today we have one of the largest reedbeds in Greater Manchester, but reedbeds need to be managed to continue to thrive. At Doffcocker willow has been encroaching on the edges of the reedbed. Trees damage reedbeds in a number of ways, they can dry out the boggy areas reeds grow in by sucking up the moisture, and also silt up water bodies by depositing leaf litter. Over time the reeds are driven back and the reedbeds become dominated by willow.

Bolton Conservation Volunteers spent this Sunday removing willow trees to stop the decline of one of Bolton’s most wildlife rich habitats.

For more information on reedbeds and how to create them read the downloadable file below.

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