"A Clear Future for our River"

Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bath Festival of Nature

BART had another great day at Festival of Nature this weekend, this time at Bath! It was encouraging to see so many people of all ages with an interest in protecting their environments.

Whilst we were there we ran our drawing activity where each child drew a square of an iconic Bath scene:

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and the finished piece looks fantastic! Can you guess what it is?

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Thanks to everyone who took part 🙂

Wessex Water’s stall was also very well received with their ‘shake test’ – looking at how degradable toilet paper is compared to wet wipes. Did you know that even so called ‘flushable’ wipes can cause blockages? Wessex Water spend more than 5 million pounds a year dealing with more than 5,000 blockages – money that could be spent on improving our water environments.

See you there next year!

The Wellow Brook Project

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) has formally completed its partnership project on a stretch of the Wellow Brook at Welton, Midsomer Norton. The project was carried out in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency. Many informal initiatives however will be continuing during the Summer.

The Wellow Brook was identified as a river that could benefit from some improvements for the benefit of wildlife and local residents. The brook through the town was a neglected resource and it was believed that a small project might be just the catalyst that was needed to engage the local community in appreciating the importance and amenity value of their local stream. The project site was chosen due to its proximity to a footpath which runs alongside the brook which is heavily used by local residents (particularly dog walkers and young children)

The aims of the project were to:

  • To draw attention to the brook and to highlight how local people could make a difference in maintaining it and improving it in the future, whilst also making some improvements to the brook.
  • To open up the river by coppicing a short stretch which would be immediately noticeable to local residents and to provide views along the brook which were previously hidden.  This would also allow extra light into the brook and along it’s bankside to promote plant growth and increase the productivity of the river.
  • To construct in-stream woody structures along the newly cleared stretch to introduce some variability to the flow pattern of the brook within its natural banks. It was intended that these structures would also act as refuges and habitats for juvenile fish, including the small numbers of brown trout present in the area.
  • To patch areas of bank erosion along the site using natural woody materials.
  •  To investigate other areas of the river for the future to offer ongoing solutions and opportunities for local people and the local authorities to continue improvement and maintenance of the town’s most valuable natural asset.

 

We also aimed to involve the local community in the above objectives wherever possible and increase local interest and ownership for the future using a number of methods

  • by training a number of volunteers in Riverfly invertebrate sampling on the Wellow
  • by conducting community riverside litter picks to clean up the river for local residents and get more people involved in the maintenance of their river.
  • by improving an access point to the river where bank erosion by people and dogs was becoming an issue but which offered great amenity value for children and schools.
  • by conducting other community engagement activities designed to reconnect people with their river and widen their knowledge of the issues it faces.

 

The coppicing has visually opened river views and access and we have already had a great response to this, with people commenting on how they are enjoying being able to see the river.

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 The project has introduced a greater of variety of flows into the river in the project area which have already been observed to increase the scour of the riverbed, which will undoubtedly improve habitat for invertebrates and the spawning potential for trout in the future. The berms are collecting sediment and plants have started to colonise them as a result – the banks are narrowing.

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The increased access allows people to see problems and report them. This has already led to feedback which has highlighted there may be a misconnections issue nearby which can now be identified.

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 BART believes the true value of projects such as these are the future possibilities created by the partnerships and people who become involved in them, not just the immediate assets delivered and this project will continue to deliver benefit long into the future.

Thanks to all of the volunteers involved in this project for your help!

More photos from the project:

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Bristol Frome Diffuse Pollution Project

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Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) are delighted to have been asked to lead this project on behalf of the Bristol Avon Catchment Group, with funding provided through the DEFRA Catchment Partnership Action Fund.

BART will work in partnership with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG SW) and the farmers and landowners along the Ladden Brook and Bradley Brook which form the headwaters of the Bristol Frome to identify and take actions to contribute towards the reduction of levels of sediment and nutrients entering the river. The Bristol Frome is currently failing Water Framework Directive measures for phosphates and this project will form part of a number of wider initiatives on the river which will result in further projects in the coming years.

Both BART and FWAG are charities who have developed to help the agricultural community by providing trusted independent, environmental advice.

The project is designed to kick start farming involvement in tackling these issues by providing specialist advice to local farmers who are best placed to  contribute to the solving these problems in this area. The project will find out what farmers think is required to solve these problems and will also help to raise awareness of best practices and share what has been achieved elsewhere.

The advice and improvements made on farms within the project area will not just help meet arbitrary targets; they will also deliver real ongoing benefits such as increased biodiversity and productivity, as well as improved health and well-being as a result of local community engagement within the project.

A weekend at Bristol Festival of Nature

BART spent the weekend at Bristol Festival of Nature in the Harbourside, where there were a huge variety of fantastic organisations and activities for people of all ages to get involved with. We were there as part of the Catchment Partnership talking about our work to improve the waterbodies of the Bristol Avon Catchment.

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As part of this, one of the activities that the Catchment Partnership organised was a game which involved picking a square section of photo of a Bristol nature scene and drawing it onto the corresponding blank square.  The result of this was two impressive abstract interpretations of our water environments. Can you spot your handiwork?

Before:

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After:

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The second image created, a boat in the harbour:

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Well done to everyone who took part, they look great!

BART would also like to extend a massive thank you to everyone who signed up to volunteer with us, we look forward to working with you in the future!