West Cumbria Rivers Trust has planted more than 10,000 trees and created enough new wetland to cover 28 football pitches in just one year, helping to reduce flood risk and improve local rivers.
During 2021 the charity delivered a series of Natural Flood Management projects to help protect West Cumbrian communities including Keswick, Cockermouth, Lorton, Flimby and Bootle, which included installing 482 leaky dams and woody debris features in becks to help slow water flow during storms and reduce peak flood levels downstream, as well as improving wildlife habitats and water quality. The Trust is working with Lancaster University to monitor the effectiveness of the new measures, which are helping to reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses.
On top of the staggering 10,200 trees planted, 6.4km of hedgerow were created and 13.2km of new river bank buffer strips, 11 new large water storage ponds and 200,000 square metres of new wetlands – equivalent to 28 football pitches – to help hold water back during large flood events.
New wetlands in the Lorton Valley
Jodie Mills, Operations Director at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “The health of our rivers and lakes is important to us all. I’m so proud of what West Cumbria Rivers Trust achieved in 2021 but there is still more all of us can do.”
“We’re really excited about 2022 and we’ll keep working to improve our rivers and lakes for both people and wildlife. We’ve got fantastic improvement projects underway across whole river catchments, we’re working to conserve endangered and threatened species such as the freshwater mussel and Atlantic salmon. We’ve also got a pipeline of fantastic new projects we can’t wait to get started on.”
Regular work for the Trust also includes removing invasive plant and animal species which threaten native species. In 2021 the team controlled invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed over an area of 19 hectares and removed 426 invasive crayfish.
Wildlife surveys are also a vital part of the Trust’s work, used to inform future improvement works and monitor the environmental health of the area. 33km of river habitat were surveyed and fish populations surveyed at 173 sites with water quality monitored at 62 sites.
The Trust also works hard to help people enjoy and understand our rivers and lakes. In 2021, the Trust held 112 community events and worked with over 1,000 school children in our Forest Schools programme.
Jodie also praised the passion and commitment of the 157 farmers and landowners and 76 farms who worked with the Trust during the year, and the communities, local businesses and partner organisations who supported delivery of the projects.
“Their support has been amazing, and we also must thank our 300 wonderful volunteers giving us 2,730 hours of their time,” she said.
“But there is still a lot of work to do, so If you would like to help us then please see our website www.westcumbriariverstrust.org for how you can get involved.”