River and Wetland Restoration
Riverside Park is a significant feature in Ballymoney and comprises some 40 acres/16 hectares of open parkland in an urban setting. It is linear in nature stretching from the A26 Frocess Road to the east of Ballymoney as far as Bravallen Road to the west of the town.
The Ballymoney River flows along the length of Riverside Park and is a key feature which makes the Park a haven for wildlife. During the 1970's a boating lake was cut into the river and a weir installed, this later morphed into a duck pond. From the very start this pond caused problems to the biodiversity of the river, silting up the pond causing an unpleasant odour and trapping debris.
In 2014 /15 Ballymoney Borough Council, now Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council entered into a partnership with Rivers Agency and the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure to remove the duck pond creating a new river channel and wetland floodplain, along with improving the access to this core area of the Park.
Through sensitive engineering a new river channel was created with specific works to support its native fish population, including Atlantic salmon, such as gravel beds, overhangs and deep pools.
Specialist biodiversity planting was used to restore the old pond area into a wetland floodplain using plants and grasses that can tolerate flooding and bring some colour to the park, such as purple loosestrife, flag iris, meadow sweet and ragged robin.
A ‘living barrier’ was planted along the river banks to naturalise it using plants like, marsh marigold and devils bit-scabious, this in turn creates a home for insect life such as, dragonflies and damselflies.
The woodland areas were also enhanced with plants including, wild garlic, bluebells, snowdrops, miniature daffodils, honeysuckle and red campion, which also add colour to the park and provide much needed nectar source to our native bumblebees and butterflies, look out for the white-tailed and common carder bumblebees and speckled wood and ringlet butterflies.
In 2015 the Council recognised the value of Riverside Park for people and biodiversity and designated it a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) which was endorsed by the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside.
Why not visit this wonderful park and experience the wetland and river biodiversity first hand. The main entrance is off Armour Ave, Ballymoney.