In partnership with the University of Cumbria we are experimenting with different geotextiles to see if one type is more effective than another at stabilising soil on our property at High Borrowdale.

We are looking into the effectiveness of a new landscape stabilisation matting called sisal. Sisal has been around for years, but not used for stabilisation work before. This matting will be put onto the exposed areas of fell side on our land and the area regularly observed to see if it positively affects the way the vegetation grows back, and therefore how the landscape can withstand extreme rainfall events by building flood resilience into our fell sides and river banks.

26th June 2018

We had previously attempted to peg out matting on an area in January but the weather and the incline of the site chosen defeated us on the day. The ground was simply too waterlogged to make the work safe and the sisal secure.

As in all new research, we chalked it up to experience, learned a valuable lesson and persevered! We re-visited the site last week and are pleased to report that drier conditions, the sourcing of some nifty new steel pegs and a site selection slightly less precipitous meant that we were able to install two areas of matting on site with a third to finish in July.

A test area that had suffered a minor landslip were covered with sisal material and a separate area higher up on the same ghyllside with Jute. A third area will be covered with Coir during July.

It means that we can now investigate the merits of different materials in stabilising soil. We will carry out site visits and during our regular work parties on the site we'll collect photographic evidence of the efficacy of the materials.

The research should provide us with some valuable information on the effectiveness of these materials and our hope is that this research and the outcomes can be shared with similar sites across the country and contribute to our knowledge of soil stabilising techniques. 

The project has three main aims:

  • Is sisal effective under laboratory testing vs more commonly used materials such as coir and jute?
  • Is sisal effective in a real world application for landscape stabilisation? Comparative field trials will be conducted on Friends of the Lake District land at High Borrowdale
  • Is sisal effective for Cumbria including cost comparisons with coir and jute? There is potential to compare vs non environmental solutions as a desktop exercise (no trials.)