Spring in the air?
March 5, 2012
Another Fortnight has passed, and I wonder where it went? It’s been a very busy few weeks, on the 22nd of February we submitted for projects to the Catchment Restoration Fund; Colne Water Catchment Restoration Project, Diffusing the issue in rural Ribble, Limestone Ribble Restoration Project, and Reconnecting the Ribble – People, species and habitats.
A huge body of work went into these project plans (including my life blood – or so it felt!), and we hope to have some news on how successful (or not) the bids were in April. They are holistic projects that will be addressing all issues of restoration from physical channel and connectivity, to drainage, pollution and stake holder engagement. We have forged several strong partnerships through Ribble Life to create a means of delivering these projects, such as with the; RSPB, Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission, the Wild Trout Trust, the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, Durham University and many of the angling clubs and local community groups. If successful we will be holding workshops in late May early June to bring input from all river stakeholders.
Following the submission I attended a National Catchment Restoration Seminar in Birmingham, based around the principle of working with water companies and “Upstream Thinking”. This was a well-attended seminar, with many interesting presentations from the water companies, DEFRA, OFWAT, DWI, NE, and the NFU. If really shows how partnering with all of the above delivery of cleaner and healthier rivers can be achieved for the benefit of the environment and for the water coming out of our taps. The most interesting fact of the day for me is that degraded peat bogs actually give off something like 2.56 tonnes of CO2 per Hectare and restored functioning peat bogs sequester 6.67 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. So our work on Blea moor is now sequestering a fair few tonnes of Carbon!
On the Thursday and Friday I attended the Northern Rivers Trust Conference in Penrith. The first day was in relation to the River Improvement Fund that has been part funding much of the work we have been doing over the last 2 years (including Padiham, Barrowford, Brun and Calder Fish passes) and is part funding many of the projects in the coming year. The second day involved information and training around the DEFRA pilots, including guidance and background information from DEFRA on what they would like to see as part of the pilots. There are a total of 25 official pilots, 10 are being run by the EA (and we are a co-host in this pilot) and the other 15 by other organisations (including 6 by rivers trusts). It was very informative and inspirational; the work on the Ripple project in Ireland was of particular interest.
Last week I was away for a couple of days making final preparations for my upcoming wedding! It was nice to re-charge the batteries slightly! On Friday I was back into the swing of things and made site visits to look at progress on our works at Chipping. With one project all but completed (couple of minor amendments to be made) and the other 1/3 of the way through it felt good to be seeing work delivered on the ground, especially with the good weather making it feel as though spring was now here!
Friday was also a volunteer planting day on Cam beck. Almost all tree planting was completed by Sunday. And our many thanks to those volunteers who turned out! We are really getting a good system going for our volunteer days now!
Also over the last two weeks our outline proposals for the Burnley works were produced and presented to the project steering group. This had some great feedback, and we hope that the URES website will be up and running soon for all to see our proposals!
The invasives project ran its first training day in partnership with Myerscough College which was a fantastic day and well attended. Our thanks to Myerscough College, as well as the volunteers who made it a fantastic day. Soon there will be other training days for volunteers wanting to undertake works. Please get in touch with Adam or Charlie if you are interested.
Ribble Life is pushing ahead and we’ve held several more meetings with Stakeholders. We are planning some more catchment appraisal tours and workshops from April onwards, so please keep an eye on the Ribble Life Website for information. You will notice the website has limited information on it. We would encourage you as stakeholders to send in information and articles that you would like to see on there.
Gareth has now completed the 2011 Fisheries Scientist report which you will find online later today. This report is a fantastic piece of work, and shows how the last 4 years are coming together. You will see that we’ve produced a very initial inter year graph showing how populations of fry are fluctuating. I would ask that you remember these graph are only at sites REPEATED EVERY year for the last 4 years. So it doesn’t show how populations have varied at every site, only those that have been repeated. However this will improve each year as we have increase our surveys and repeated site each year, e.g. we 202 sites in 2008, 243 in 2009, 273 in 2010 and 300+ in 2011.
The Darwen walkover are now almost complete and we will be starting to draw up our priority sites for fish passage in the next few months, ahead of finalising the list once invert and fisheries surveys are completed over the summer.