Tree Planting – Trees along riverbanks are important for a number of reasons. They make excellent habitat for wildlife and overhanging branches provide cover for fish, invertebrates and otters. Trees help to adapt our rivers to the effects of climate change too, by shading the water and keeping it at a cool temperature. They are also a means of carbon sequestration. The Trust plant trees from November through to March when the weather conditions ensure that as many trees as possible survive and grow. Planting trees requires real teamwork, and it’s a great feeling when you see your efforts transform into established woodland over the years.
Willow Planting – Willow stakes can be planted quickly and easily, simply by inserting them into the riverbanks. They are an excellent means of preventing excessive bank erosion and what’s more, it’s all done naturally. The roots bind the soil and prevent it from being washed away by the river. They grow quickly and are a superb replacement after invasive Himalayan balsam has been cleared.
Fencing – Livestock can have a serious effect on the health of a river, especially the smaller tributaries. By trampling the banks they generate increased erosion, causing high levels of sediment to enter the water which can suffocate fish eggs. They also prevent vegetation from growing, so the riverside habitat is less diverse and there are fewer overhanging plants that fish can use as refuge. Livestock in rivers input faecal matter directly into the water, which contributes to the problem of our coastal bathing waters failing to meet the required standard. They can also trample and destroy fish eggs during spawning seasons. With the banks fenced off, the riverside flora can flourish and the river is more protected from diffuse pollution. Fencing requires a lot of physical effort and hard work, but it generates a real sense of achievement.
Litter Clean-ups – It may seem like an arduous task, but you can see the difference you make instantly. Removing litter is important because it changes people’s perceptions of the river. If it is filled with rubbish, people will have little regard for it and be more inclined to add to the problem, whereas if it looks attractive, people will be hold it in higher regard and perhaps look after it better. If you know a place where littering is a problem, let us know and we may be able to organise a clean-up for you.