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With extensive frontage along the banks of the River Thames, the grounds of the world River Erosion famous Henley Management College are much used by students and visitors alike. But when wave action and signal crayfish burrowing undermined a quarter of a mile of the riverbank revetments to the point where the lawns were being undercut by deep water-filled caverns, urgent remedial action was required.

The brief to BritishFlora was to provide sustainable soft-engineered bank protection to arrest the severe undercutting of the original dry concrete wall. The design would take into consideration longevity, bio-diversity and, in particular, the need to preserve the outstanding natural beauty of the College’s surroundings.

A secondary requirement was to introduce a horticultural solution to the damage and spoilage being caused to the flower beds and lawns by large flocks of visiting Canada geese when roosting overnight.

Teaming up with Cain Bio-Engineering Ltd and in close liaison with the Environment Agency, the design solution was to install a robust marginal vegetated mattress along the entire riverbank that:-

  • Withstands and dissipates the wave action caused by boat traffic
  • Blends sympathetically with the environment
  • Is a fraction of the cost of hard engineering
  • Provides long term protection against further river bank erosion
  • Will create an impenetrable barrier for the geese without recourse to unsightly fences or barriers