News

River Derwent (Cumbria) Catchment Wide Habitat Improvement

Posted on November 11, 2019

River Derwent (Cumbria) Catchment Wide Habitat Improvement

The last in our series of news items about the finalists for the WTT Conservation Awards

The Cumbrian Derwent is a Special Area of Conservation and Site of Special Scientific Interest, with important species of fish, invertebrates and plants. The river was subjected to huge and damaging flooding in 2009 and 2015, making enhancement of available habitat imperative.

The River Derwent Catchment-Wide Habitat Improvement Project is delivered under the umbrella of the River Corridor Group (RCG), a partnership of the Derwent Owners Association, the Environment Agency, Natural England, West Cumbria Rivers Trust, National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority and the Woodland Trust. The project is long-term and ongoing, with the key objectives of improving riparian habitat through stock-exclusion and riparian planting, tree management, improving in-river habitat for fish species through the introduction of large woody debris, providing spawning gravels, creating wildlife corridors through assisted natural recovery projects and contributing to natural flood management processes.

Roadford Reservoir Mitigation Project in Cornwall

Posted on November 01, 2019

Roadford Reservoir Mitigation Project in Cornwall

A summary of one of the Conservation Awards finalists:

The construction of Roadford Reservoir, in Cornwall’s Tamar catchment, led to the loss of natural flows, spawning areas and habitat for all wild salmonid life stages; for over 30 years, compensation from South West Water took the form of a fish rearing and stocking programme. This project, however, a collaboration of Westcountry Rivers Trust, South West Water and the Tamar & Tributaries Fisheries Association, aimed to work on habitat improvement across the entire catchment, dividing it into three parts: the Lyd, the Inny and the upper Tamar. A suite of interventions has been implemented, including the reduction of abandoned coppice, gravel cleaning, debris dam removal and electric fishing monitoring.

The project has mapped areas for rehabilitation through 11km of walkover, established 16 new electric fishing monitoring sites, cleaned gravel at 65 sites (approx. 1,300m2), thinned abandoned coppice on 27 sites along 3.8km of river to increase light penetration to the river and tackled six impassable debris dams. The aim, exceeded by more than double, was to increase smolt output by nearly 4,000 fish, excluding any increased migration from the debris dam work.

Bradford Anglers Aire Freshener Project

Posted on November 01, 2019

Bradford Anglers Aire Freshener Project

A summary of one of the Conservation Awards finalists: 

The Aire Freshener project, headed by Bradford City Angling Association (BCAA), supported by the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Farming & Wildlife Partnership, Aire Rivers Trust and WTT, tells the story of an angling club that has changed both the philosophy and practical management of its fishing on Yorkshire’s River Aire, near Gargrave. The river has a chequered 200-year history of neglect and abuse from various forms of industry but BCAA has established a vision for a river which:

New opportunities for the Thames Trout

Posted on October 29, 2019

New opportunities for the Thames Trout

A recent project funded by the Environment Agency and designed and delivered by Andy Thomas of the Wild Trout Trust provides new opportunities for trout and other flow loving species that reside in the lower Thames.

The Abbey stream is an old man-made river channel that leaves the River Thames at Penton Hook and re-joins downstream of Chertsey weir. The weirs and locks on the main river mean that opportunities for flow-loving, gravel spawning fish species, including brown and sea trout are very limited but a recent project completed by the WTT with EA funding and support has not only created spawning habitat but also helped to provide improved migration opportunities.

Birdsgrove, River Dove. A Tale of Two Weirs.

Posted on October 29, 2019

Birdsgrove, River Dove. A Tale of Two Weirs.

This project, led by the Environment Agency in partnership with Birdsgrove Fly Fishing Club and WTT, involved the removal of two large weirs on the River Dove in the English Midlands. The Dove is a river with a long history of re-alignment, straightening and weir-building, for land drainage, purportedly to reduce flooding and for fishing. This project set out to restore the longitudinal connectivity of the river, improving sediment transport and habitat connectivity including migration of trout, eels and other coarse fish and to restore the river’s natural processes, physical structure and habitat availability for the ecology to flourish.

Using £15,000 of EA Fisheries Improvement Programme funding, with co-funding from the fishing club and WTT, the project removed two large weirs built in the 1980s as pool-creating angling features.

Photographic monitoring and frequent site visits post-weir removal show clear evidence of habitat availability and variability which was lacking before the work was carried out; various juvenile fish and lampreys have been seen at the work sites. Before the weir removal, the upstream impounded sections were only suitable for adult fish; now, with changes in the habitat, both river reaches provide excellent spawning areas. Fresh new gravels are now transported to the downstream reaches and this will provide new habitat for fish and other organisms. Fixed point photography, time lapse cameras, water level monitoring and habitat mapping is in place to monitor the physical responses of the river after the weir removals.

Howden Bridge Rock Ramp

Posted on October 29, 2019

The third of our summaries of Conservation Awards finalists:

This vast project to build a rock ramp on the River Almond in West Lothian was led by Forth Rivers Trust (FRT), in partnership with West Lothian Council and Edinburgh City Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government and SEPA’s Water Environment Fund. The Almond is fragmented by barriers including a large weir at Howden, removal of which is deemed impossible because of an upstream road bridge.

So, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, eels and lamprey were severely restricted, barely able to access more than the bottom third of the catchment. The solution was a huge rock ramp that would not only improve fish passage but provide educational opportunities, create employment and a place for the community to visit, improving physical and mental wellbeing. The broader project is to tackle seven barriers, with the Howden rock ramp one of the most technically challenging, the UK’s longest at 185m! Construction of the ramp was completed only in May 2019, so it’s hard yet to tell if it’s completely successful, but FRT expect it to be so, for all species and sizes of fish. However, otters are clearly visiting this area as are people from the local community – 350 children from 12 schools have taken part in FRT’s work and hundreds of volunteers involved in litter picking, electric fishing, invasive weed spraying and path building. Social media reach from the project has been great, reaching a high-point of 58,000 followers in the autumn of 2018.

Branston Beck Community project

Posted on October 29, 2019

Branston Beck Community project

The second of our summaries of Conservation Awards finalists: 

The limestone becks of Lincolnshire can be home to important species such as the water vole, brown trout and native crayfish, alongside a substantial array of regionally and nationally rare insects, but historic changes to the becks including dredging and straightening along with more recent stresses from abstraction and pollution have resulted in degraded habitat for wildlife.

The Community Project site upstream of the village of Branston near Lincoln offered a great opportunity to improve habitat for spawning brown trout and other wildlife and also involve locals in creating an attractive yet biodiverse section of accessible stream. This project, led by Lincolshire Rivers Trust, set out to:

Malcolm Greenhalgh

Posted on October 28, 2019

We are sad to report the death of Malcolm Greenhalgh at the weekend. Malcolm was a true friend and huge supporter of the WTT in his role as Vice President. Many will know him through his articles for Fly Fishing and Fly Tying and his many books. He was a highly respected angler for both salmon and trout, an expert fly tyer and had a deep knowledge of his home patch – the River Ribble in Lancashire. Condolences from all at WTT to Malcolm’s many friends and family.

Adopt a Tributary - Conservation Award Finalist

Posted on October 21, 2019

Adopt a Tributary - Conservation Award Finalist

With so many excellent projects entering the Conservation Awards this year, we are featuring the finalists as well as the winners

“Adopt a Tributary” and water quality awareness work across the River Towy has been a project headed by Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation (CFF), representing anglers, angling clubs and riparian owners across rivers in West Wales. The project set out to initiate a Towy-wide “Adopt a Tributary” project and raise awareness of the state of the counties’ waterways. The success of the project has outgrown the voluntary capacity of CFF, with management passing to the West Wales Rivers Trust (WWRT) from summer 2019, formally funded by Welsh Water (WW) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and supported by Afonydd Cymru (AC) and private donations.

CFF remains a lobbying group but, since 2018, has also looked to practical work, including the removal of in-river blockages, fly-tipped waste (including plastic, metal and all sorts of other debris) and invasive plants, especially Himalayan balsam. The scale of the waste that CFF volunteers have encountered is staggering, especially since much of the catchment is rural.

Bernard Venables Award Winner 2019

Posted on October 17, 2019

Bernard Venables Award Winner 2019

We present the Bernard Venables Award to recognise those who, voluntarily, have given epic service to wild trout conservation and to WTT and whose vital work, perhaps unusual, sometimes outstanding, often goes unrecognised.

The 2019 winner is Paul Jennings of the River Chess Association.

While Paul’s focus has been on his home river, the Chess in Buckinghamshire, his work and influence (all voluntary) stretches along the rivers of the Chilterns and north London and further to the chalkstreams of Yorkshire. He fights and lobbies for those rivers at many levels: local and national government, regulators, water companies and won changes for the better. On the Chess, he teaches children with learning need how to fish and he leads groups bug hunting in the river; he’s hugely popular with the kids and their teachers.

Winners of the Conservation Awards 2019

Posted on October 17, 2019

Winners of the Conservation Awards 2019

Around 100 people gathered in the ballroom of the Savile Club on 16 October 2019 in London to celebrate the tremendous contributions of individuals and groups to improving river habitat. It is always an uplifting experience to see the dedication, determination and expertise that is demonstrated in the projects competing for the annual Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards.

The awards are judged by the Wild Trout Trust team, under the watchful eye of Martin Jaynes of the River Restoration Centre, and presented by Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England.

WTT’s Director, Shaun Leonard said:

River Darent at Eynsford gets a make-over

Posted on October 14, 2019

River Darent at Eynsford gets a make-over

The Darent Valley Trout Fishers, the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust have teamed up to improve two sections of the River Darent near Eynsford.

The most striking element of the enhancement has been to restore a long section of river that previously had sluggish flow, full of soft sediment and choked with emergent burr reeds, as a direct result of excessive dredging work carried out many years ago. A key part of this scheme was also to improve flood plain connectivity, as well as providing habitat capable of supporting flow-loving fish species like trout.

Announcing WTT’s new Urban River Toolkit

Posted on September 29, 2019

Announcing WTT’s new Urban River Toolkit

It’s hard to believe that WTT’s original Urban River Restoration Guidelines were published all the way back in 2010: written by Paul Gaskell, and generously funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Now, nearly 10 years later, with even more knowledge and experience under our belts, we decided we should give those early guidelines a bit of an update.

So one of my first tasks, as Trout in the Town Officer for the south of England and Wales, was to sit down and think: “What else did we want to know when we started the Wandle project all those years ago? And what’s changed since then?”

Outfall Safari training

Posted on September 23, 2019

Outfall Safari training

Outfall Safari training

The Outfall Safari is a citizen science method for surveying outfalls in urban rivers and reporting those that are polluted to the relevant authorities. A ‘Train the Trainer’ session is taking place on Monday 4 November at Aylesbury Sewage Treatment Works for those interested in leading or supporting Outfall Safaris.

For more details including registration, see below or click here.