River restoration project brings water quality boost to Calderdale
As part of Reviving Calderdale’s Rivers – a £50,000 project managed and delivered by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and jointly funded by the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water – invasive Himalayan Balsam has been removed, willow spiling installed to prevent riverbank erosion, and a river clean-up taken place.
With technical input from The Wild Trout Trust and Calder and Colne Rivers Trust, the project surveyed 42km of river to identify actions to improve Calderdale’s waterways.
Already work has included:
Willow spiling: 2.7km of river has been enhanced by using willow spiling at key areas along the river bank to reduce erosion. Living willow walls, which help protect the river bank from erosion and provides vital habitat, have been installed along two farmers’ fields at Strines Beck, Bradshaw, Halifax. This prevents large amounts of sediment from the land washing into the river during rain, protecting water quality and species living in the river.
Himalayan Balsam removal: 3.9 hectares of the invasive non-native species which chokes river banks has been removed from the River Ryburn at Ripponden. Himalayan Balsam outcompetes native plant species, reducing habitat, and erodes riverbanks which releases soil into the water, reducing water quality.
River clean-up: With the help of FORUS Tree community group, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust removed several tons of rubbish from Hebble Brook at Halifax, including traffic cones, shopping trollies and a sofa!
Surveys: 42km of river was surveyed by the partnership, with additional input from Calderdale Council and FORUS Tree, to identify what further actions are needed to improve the river. These surveys also resulted in the native White Clawed Crayfish being rediscovered in Luddenden Brook – a great find for Yorkshire!
Fencing: Fences were erected to protect riverbanks and allow vegetation to regenerate. The area where native crayfish were found was fenced to protect the crayfish from disturbance and disease.
Ineke Jackson, Project Manager for the Environment Agency, said:
The Reviving Calderdale’s Rivers project has been focused on improving the ecological health and water quality in Calderdale and we have seen great results. The expertise of everyone involved has led to really positive improvements for wildlife along the rivers by protecting riverbanks and reducing the impacts of invasive species.
We’re looking forward to working with our partners on other exciting work starting this year. This will use the valuable information we’ve gained from the surveys to improve the ecological health of Calderdale’s rivers even further.
Elliot Baxendale, Project Officer from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, added:
We’re absolutely delighted with how successful the work carried out as part of the project has been.
The restoration interventions are a great example of the importance of working with local farmers and landowners to make improvements for all. They will reduce riverbank erosion, increase water quality and provide habitat for river-dwelling species.
As the project with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust comes to an end, the next step for Calderdale’s rivers, which face pressures from agricultural practices and rural land management, is to use the results from the surveys to carry out more improvements through further projects starting this year. This will bring a boost to the catchment and tackle some of the issues affecting water quality and habitats.
The completion comes during the national invasive non-native species (INNS) week, run by the GB non-native species secretariat, which runs from 15-21 May. It calls on people to play their part to stop the spread of invasive animals and plants, such as Himalayan Balsam, which are one of the top drivers of biodiversity loss.
People to play their part by making sure they Check, Clean and Dry their clothing and equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species. Anything that has contact with the water and riverbank needs to be cleaned thoroughly and dried until it has been dry for 48 hours. If this is not possible, cleaning and the use of an environmentally friendly aquatic disinfectant is recommended. This will make sure all aquatic diseases and invasive species are killed. More information can be found on the Invasive non-native species website.