We are pleased to be working with Midsomer Norton Town Council to improve the Wellow Brook, thanks to funding from Postcode Local Trust. The following article is from the Midsomer Norton Town Council Magazine and describes the work we will be getting up to in summer 2017!
Exciting new project at the Wellow Brook Walk
In the Winter 2016 edition of LIFE Magazine, we reported on plans to work with the Conservation Volunteers, a community volunteering charity and invited you to let us know if you were interested. The response from the community was a little disappointing and then found out that the Green Gym initiative would not be able to support a scheme at the site.
We were not to be deterred however and we have now teamed up with Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) to launch a more local initiative at the site to implement our plans to create a community conservation space.
BART is a community led organisation which aims to deliver education, land and river management advice and practical river restoration work in the Bristol Avon catchment. Through promoting an ecosystem-based approach, they aim to re-connect communities to their rivers and help river users and lovers better appreciate and improve their local rivers and streams.
We have already been discussing the possibilities for the site which include:
Continuing the construction of flow deflecting structures throughout the site to improve flow conditions for fish, including brown trout. This would involve light coppicing at a 60:40 ratio of shade to light and the limbs and brash removed would be used to build the structures. As standard, these structures will be approved by the Environment Agency’s Flood Defence team.
Planting areas of wildflowers, probably in in late August on the sloped banks of the area.
Running river dipping & water quality sessions with local schools and possibly running a hibernaculum building session using the leftover wood and some pallets.
This would all contribute to the work that the Town Council has in hand to improve the footpaths, reduce the scrub which has encroached across a considerable area and rid the land of invasive and unwelcome species of plants.
To bring this together, the Town Council and BART have agreed to hold an evening forum in the Town Hall on Thursday 30th March at 7pm. You are invited to come along discuss the project, river wildlife in general and express your views on the river and the Wellow Brook Walk as a whole. Please also tell us about any improvements that you would like to see and anything else that you may want to bring up.
BART and the Town Council would like to create a ‘Friends of the Wellow’ group and this is an important first step to achieve that. Come along and find out more on Thursday 30th March!
Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund‘s Awards for All programme, BART are pleased to announce that we will be running 4 new Riverfly Partnership training sessions. These one day sessions will provide participants with the skills needed to monitor aquatic invertebrates on a monthly basis as indicators of water quality. More information available here: http://www.bristolavonriverstrust.org/what-we-do/riverfly_monitoring/
All sessions are free, will run from 10am-4pm and will be filled up on a first come, first served basis.
- Lacock, Wiltshire: 28th April
- Batheaston, Bath: 11th May
- Freshford, Somerset: 20th May
- Chew Magna, Somerset: 25th May
If you are interested in attending a session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This #WorldWetlandsDay, some of the BART Team will be spending the day at Steart Marshes in Somerset continuing a vitally important project to monitor population levels of the European eel in this important wetland. This 2 week project, led by Westcountry Rivers Trust and funded by the Environment Agency, will assess how the eel use the Steart as important feeding zones, life habitats or as part of their migratory route.
Opened in 2014, Steart Marshes is managed by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and the Environment Agency and has been labelled as ‘a wild, wetland landscape for the future that helps people and wildlife adapt to climate change.’ Rising sea levels are predicted to completely flood thousands of hectares of saltmarsh and mudflats over the next 50 years. At some places, such as Steart Marshes, it is possible to realign the coastline, allowing vital new saltmarsh to form. As with all wetlands, the area provides habitat for a rich mix of wetland wildlife including otters, egrets, owls waders and wildfowl and its creeks are a nursery for the fry of important fish stocks. Not only this, but the habitat is a vital carbon storage area, absorbing tonnes of climate-polluting carbon as it matures.
We will update on the success of the project as it unfolds but we are pleased to have found the first evidence of eels using 2 different habitats within the site so far. We were joined in these findings by a familiar face from TV – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who came to learn more about Westcountry Rivers Trusts and BART’s conservation and research efforts. We look forward to seeing the plight of the eel on our screens in 2018 as part of Hugh’s new series exploring the Westcountry!
Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART will be working with 8 Riverfly monitors, 5 community groups, 5 schools and 5 farmers to monitor chemical water quality in their local rivers throughout the catchment over the next year.
This monitoring is testing for phosphates and nitrates with the global research project Freshwater Watch. Although naturally occurring in our rivers, concentrations of these elements can be increased by both agricultural and urban run-off and can lead to harmful algal blooms which strip waterbodies of oxygen and result in fish kills. Some of you may already have conducted Freshwater Watch monitoring as part of the hugely successful WaterBlitz 2016 event but this is a further opportunity for people to monitor phosphates, nitrates and turbidity in their local river. This biological and chemical monitoring will provide invaluable data to pick up local issues and aid us in directing future conservation work to improve our rivers.
This project is funded by the Environment Agency as a continuation of the Bristol Frome Pollution Project completed last year on behalf of the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership. The aim is to maintain focus on improvements within the Bristol Frome and it’s tributaries which will lead to improved ecological status.
This project will focus on two main areas:
- Farm advisory visits
- Follow up visits to previously visited farms
- An inventory of future capital farm improvements
In-stream habitat improvements
- In stream habitat improvements by BART with local community assistance
- An investigation into improving the upper reaches of the river for the benefit of wild brown trout.
- An investigation of structures having an impounding effect on the river and those that are barriers to fish migration.
In-stream habitat works will take place from 20th-24th February and the 27th Feb-3rd March. If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch with our Project Officer at email@example.com