Teise habitat improvement project

The Teise is one of the Medway’s four main tributaries. The health of the River Teise is integral to key sites within its catchment, including Bedgebury Forest, Bewl Water, angling clubs and the largely agricultural landscape.

Many key partners have been active in engaging with and improving the health of the Teise catchment. The South East Rivers Trust’s work in the Teise so far has consisted of the removal of four concrete weirs, in addition to habitat work at these sites. This project naturalised the movement of water and sediment throughout the catchment and opened up several kilometres of river habitat to make it accessible to migrating fish.

  • Weirs removed


Background to the River Teise

The Teise is typical of many rivers in England: it has been heavily modified by humans over the past few centuries for the purpose of industry, the transport of goods and to drain land for agriculture.

It has been over-deepened, over-widened and straightened, leaving it experiencing irregular flows and lacking diverse habitat to support a range of wildlife.

As a result, the Lower Teise and Teise and Lesser Teise sub-catchments both fail to achieve “good” ecological status as outlined in the Water Framework Directive.

This project aims to address these failings in these two sub-catchments of the River Teise.

Rivers also face increasing pressures in the 21st Century.

Climate change means that hotter summers and irregular weather patterns will contribute to water scarcity.

Predicted population growth in the south east will also increase demand for water, further contributing to water scarcity, and the increased pollution will reduce water quality in our rivers.

These factors make it all the more crucial to restore the Teise to a more natural state, increasing its resilience to external pressures and safeguarding it for wildlife, as an amenity feature and for domestic water supply.

A map of the target catchments

What will the project do?

The Teise habitat improvement project provides a fantastic opportunity to expand on previous work to deliver catchment-scale river restoration that would improve the health of the lower catchments of the River Teise for people and wildlife.

The South East Rivers Trust will continue to collect and review data and evidence about how issues from a range of impacts affect the river.

The project, part-funded by the Environment Agency, will engage with landowners about the issues discovered and work with them to develop and prioritise a shortlist of projects to be delivered.

The aim of restoration work is to reinstate a more naturally functioning river, using Nature-based Solutions (NbS), which imitate natural forms or processes.

Assessment of a river © South East Rivers Trust

What are Nature-Based Solutions?

Nature-based Solutions have multiple benefits that fulfil the four broad aims of river restoration: improving water quality, increasing water availability (the south east of England is a water scarce region), enhancing habitat and / or managing flood risk.

Methods of restoring the river to a more natural state might include:

  • putting in leaky woody structures, to provide a diversity of flows and habitat that are currently lacking because of the historical modifications to the river;
  • restoring wetlands, to create more habitat and increase resilience to low flows;
  • and tree planting, to create more natural and more complex habitat along the banks of the river and to shade rivers in hotter summers.

Other methods of restoring the river to a more natural state might include:

  • removing weirs or making them passable for fish migration;
  • restoring backwater habitats (small off-shoots from the main channel that provide excellent habitat for juvenile fish and where fish can shelter from high flows without being washed downstream);
  • re-introducing a meandering flow to a previously straightened river to reinstate a more natural flow and provide more diverse habitat for wildlife.
Typical restoration work carried out by SERT © South East Rivers Trust

Building a backwater

In September 2023, the South East Rivers Trust created a backwater on the River Teise near Goudhurst.

Further digging out a depression in the landscape which might have been the original course of the river, our contractors dug out at 20×8 metre space.

This now provides a refuge for aquatic wildlife against pollution and high flows or flooding incidents along the main river channel.

Planting the backwater with locally sourced ferns and a natural pond/ wetland seed mix, the backwater will in time become a haven for dragonflies and damselflies, improving the area’s biodiversity.

We have begun to plant the backwater's edge with ferns

Delivering catchment-scale improvements

Over the course of this multi-year project, the South East Rivers Trust will build on the work of the Medway Catchment Partnership by delivering more demonstrable improvements to the catchment.

This project aims to deliver a patchwork of river restoration works across the catchment.  Together, these will contribute towards a catchment-scale change that is greater than the sum of its parts and that enhances the river system as a whole.

We continue to work closely with the Teise Angling and Conservation Society to improve the river habitat for brown trout, rainbow trout and grayling.

The aim is to bring the river back to a natural state © South East Rivers Trust

Thanks to our supporters

Environment Agency