;
BRISTOL AVON RIVERS TRUST
"A Clear Future for our River"

Projects

Little Avon Fisheries Habitat Enhancement

BART has recently completed the delivery of fisheries habitat improvements throughout a stretch of the Little Avon. BART’s operations team teamed up with volunteers from Charfield Angling Association to install habitat features throughout the fishing beat. Prior to the works, this section of river was over wide, straight and lacked cross-sectional habitat and flow diversity.

BART worked with volunteers to install a series of brushwood flow deflectors and mattresses to reinstate sinuosity and promote flow diversity throughout this section of the Little Avon. The working party assembled the structures in strategic locations, using brushwood from the bank-side, targeting over shaded sections of the beat to help thin out the canopy. The structures will begin to influence river processes, forming habitat niches and refuge to support various life-cycles of fish and invertebrates.

The work will begin to bed in over the next few months and whilst the added sinuosity is already evident, the river will continue to redistribute bed substrate, enhancing riffle-pool sequences throughout this stretch.

Thank you to the Environment Agency for funding the project via the Fisheries Improvement Fund, and thank you to Charfield Angling Association and the respective land owners for their support throughout this project. It was a pleasure to work with all of those involved and we look forward to seeing the benefits over the coming years.

Follow our project progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

Project Update: Opening up Norton Brook (tributary of the Wellow Brook) to fish

The BART team have been busy this week removing several large blockages from the course of the Norton Brook. The blockages were deemed barriers to fish at most flow conditions and impound the waterbody, limiting habitat diversity throughout this stretch of the brook (approx. 300m).

Removing the blockages has opened up a large stretch from the confluence of the Wellow Brook to fish and aquatic life. The brook will now be given time to geomorphologically adjust before BART assess the stretch for further habitat improvements.

Before blockage removal – impounded flow conditions, very little light penetrating the stream, barrier to fish.

 

After blockage removal – riffle creation (potential fish spawning habitat), sinuosity re-instated, light penetrating the stream, fly life has already started to return.

 

Before blockage removal – reduced flow conditions due to impounding effect of sleepers and other debris that has collated; barrier to fish during most flow conditions.

 

After blockage removal – riffle creation (potential fish spawning habitat), sinuosity re-instated, light penetrating the stream, fly life has already started to return.

This work is part of the first delivery phase of BART’s Restoring the Wellow, Midford and Cam Brook project funded by the Environment Agency’s Water & Environment Improvement Fund.

Follow BART’s progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

 

Restoring the Wellow, Midford & Cam Brooks

BART has recently secured funding via the Environment Agency’s Water & Environment Improvement Fund to deliver habitat enhancement projects in two locations along the Cam & Wellow Brooks. The project aims to directly improve two water-bodies that are not meeting Water Framework Directive targets – in particular failing for fish where the classification has declined to poor in the 2016 cycle.

The project scope was developed in partnership with Avon & Tributaries Angling Association, who own the fishing rights of these waters. To date, BART has delivered stakeholder engagement, secured landowner permissions, finalised the project design and secured the required permits to physically deliver the works. Initial clearance and blockage removal will be underway very shortly.

The project will address the following issues:

  • Problematic sedimentation and diffuse pollution – there are multiple locations where livestock poaching is exacerbating bank erosion, causing increased yields of suspended sediments and faecal matter entering the river system. Current practice is likely to be detrimental to the health and recruitment of fish and other aquatic organisms including benthic invertebrates.
  • Poor fish access and supporting habitat – boulder weirs are impounding the flow of the river whilst creating barriers to smaller fish. As a consequence, a stretch of the river has become canalised, characterised by sluggish flows and limited habitat diversity or niches.
  • Limited fish spawning habitat – at present, high-potential spawning habitat is inaccessible to migratory fish due to blockages caused by fallen trees, waste material and collected detritus. Blockages also impound the river, creating unfavourable conditions for fish spawning. If removed there is potential to re-introduce idyllic spawning and juvenile refuge habitat. Livestock poaching is also extensive throughout this reach and will be addressed. 

Image 1. Bank poaching contributing fine sediments and clogging potential spawning riffles.

 

Follow our project progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

Eel in the Classroom 2018

Now we’ve had time to sit back and reflect on another year of our Eel in the Classroom project, we would like to share with you our progress in 2018.

We are really pleased to say that our project has been hugely successful to date and as a result it is growing every year. This year, we were able to run the project with a huge 12 schools – no easy feat for a small charity, with tank sourcing and set ups, eel deliveries, weekly check-ups, visits for technical issues, tank cleaning, extra lessons and release events!

We were also really pleased to deliver the project with both secondary schools and a special needs school for the first time, which shows how valuable this project is to any age range. We’ve now had wonderful feedback from 4-16 years old!

This year’s schools were in the following places:

  • Portishead, Somerset
  • Congresbury, Somerset
  • Keynsham, Somerset
  • Bath, Somerset
  • Hartcliffe, Bristol
  • Easton, Bristol
  • Eastville, Bristol
  • Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
  • Calne, Wiltshire
  • Lacock, Wiltshire
  • Pucklechurch, South Gloucestershire

We are so grateful to our funders, the Greggs Foundation, who funded 9 schools, and Avon Frome Partnership who funded a further 3 and finally to Bristol Water who provided our eels and some tank equipment.

The eels were donated by UK Glass Eels after being caught by elver fisherman on the River Severn, after which approximately 50 eels were given to each primary school. After 5 weeks of feeding the eels every day, learning about their life history, and in some cases even naming the eels, it was time to release them back into rivers to begin the next stage of their lives. The eels can spend up to around 60 years in the headwaters of rivers, in small tributaries, ditches and streams before they make the epic 5000km migration back to where they were born in the Sargasso Sea to spawn.

BART also ran a series of extra lessons throughout the project including river dipping (getting the children in their river, often for the first time), water pollution and food webs.

All of the schools released their eels into their local river and received certificates and trophies to thank them for looking after their elvers so well. We’ve been promised that they will go back and look for their eels whenever they can!

We are already looking for funding to deliver this project in 2019. Please get in touch if you are a business or individual who would like to sponsor a tank in a school near you!

Similarly, if your school is interested in getting involved in this project next year then please get in touch with harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org to be added to the waiting list.

The Bristol Avon Waterblitz returns!

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) is excited to announce the 2018 Bristol Avon WaterBlitz; a campaign to collect as many water quality samples as possible in a week from across the Bristol Avon Catchment, between Sat 23rd– and Fri 29th June 2018.

Our rivers are the central artery of the catchment with a fascinating history, beautiful scenery and stunning wildlife. Water quality in rivers across the country has been a key conservation issue over the last few decades and efforts to monitor and clean up our rivers mean that otters, kingfishers and water voles are all making comebacks on the banks of the Avon and its tributaries. However, water quality is still a massive challenge and BART need your help to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART is working in partnership with FreshWater Watch, a global programme developed by the environmental NGO, Earthwatch. This charity aims to connect people with science and nature, engaging people in citizen science to build up a wealth of research data collected by volunteers from all over the world.

BART is asking individuals and community groups to take part in the WaterBlitz this year and help to collect as many water quality samples as possible (last year we had 376 people involved!) within the Bristol Avon catchment, including Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North East Somerset.

The Bristol Avon Catchment

Using the free and simple to use water testing kit, volunteers can sample their chosen river or stream in the Bristol Avon catchment and upload the results to the FreshWater Watch website to compare the water quality level to other sites on an interactive results map.

To register and take part this year please follow the link below to sign up and you will then receive a free water quality sampling pack in the post.  Sampling kits are limited so please register by Friday 15th to ensure you can participate: https://freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org/group/bristol-avon-blitz

If you have any questions or queries about the 2018 Bristol Avon WaterBlitz please contact Alec at alec@bristolavonriverstrust.org

Thank you for helping to improve the water environment in the Bristol Avon for future generations!