Love for Lothersdale Beck

Earlier this year, Research & Conservation Officer, Jonny Grey, was awarded funding from the Yorkshire Water Biodiversity Enhancement Programme for a project very close to his heart.

Lothersdale Beck is an Aire headwater and an important tributary of the Eastburn Beck system, a major flow contributor within the Upper Aire so any work to slow the flow and improve water quality at source’ is obviously very valuable. The village has an active community group, Wild About Lothersdale, the Greener Craven Community Champrions in 2021, and landowners and volunteers have already planted or facilitated the planting of >25k trees in recent years, as well as maintaining hedges, verges, and small plots of land for wildflowers. 

LB ford
LB trees

The new funding will complement the vision of two landowners who are keen to protect and restore all the small becks that tumble from the hillsides but that have been exposed to centuries of sheep grazing. In a nutshell, Love for Lothersdale Beck aims to retore channel functionality, improve resilience and connectivity (both longitudinally and laterally) to mitigate for climate change, and to engage with the local community for which it is a focal feature.

Overall, six tributaries and a reach of Lothersdale Beck will be fenced to exclude livestock and the existing tree cover managed. Some sycamore, ash with Chalara, and alder will be systematically felled to diversify canopy age. Wood arising will be retained in situ as large as possible for habitat or winched into the tributaries as natural leaky dams, and appropriate native trees will be planted to bolster tree cover and kick-start regeneration on the balder bits. Approximately 3km of watercourse will be protected, 5ha of woodland and 0.6ha wildflower meadow created, fish passage will be improved via a rock ramp at a ford allowing free access to ~8km, two palaeochannels will be better connected, and the community will help with creation of nesting / roosting boxes for multiple species of conservation concern. And of course, there will be a bit of monitoring contributing to Jonny’s database of trout in tribs across Yorkshire

With all permissions in place, most instream work will commence next year but some has already begun. Watch this space for updates.