Trout Beck habitat improvements

Part of project: Habitat improvement

We’ve been working in the Trout Beck catchment (see map) since 1999. Over that time we’ve delivered a huge variety of small scale habitat improvement projects.

These included fencing, soil improvement, tree planting, farm advice and tree coppicing. All of the above have contributed to improving the habitat in the area, predominantly by excluding stock access to the rivers through planting – allowing the channel to naturally recover.

In 2019, we were awarded a Water Environment Grant (WEG) funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for habitat improvement works in the Trout Beck catchment.
Over the next three years, we tackled three main areas:

  1. Fisheries habitat improvement

The Wild Trout Trust carried out catchment walkovers to identify priority locations for habitat improvements. Multiple fencing projects were completed to protect the channels from livestock poaching and we planted trees to provide diverse habitat and create a buffer strip from surface water/sediment run-off.

  1. Channel modifications

The Flakebridge river restoration project was completed in September 2020. This involved implementing an assisted natural recovery approach to a historically straightened channel. Features such as bars and riffles were created along with multiple meandering channels and backwaters. Read more about this river restoration project in Chute in the Right Direction.

  1. Invasive species removal

Ecological consultants completed a catchment-wide invasive non-native species (INNS) removal management plan with the aim to eradicate them from the catchment area. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic hindering progress to remove Himalayan balsam in 2020, we removed Balasm along a 1.5km stretch of the upper reaches of the Trout Beck. By the end of the project, this had increased to 5km. Now that the project has ended, we will still be balsam bashing in this area and are setting up ‘balsam bashing zones’ that will encourage local people to get involved by bashing balsam when they are out for a walk by the river.

Getting the local community involved
We held a launch event in Long Marton in June 2019, which featured river-themed artwork by Long Marton Primary School. We worked with local schools throughout the project and ran a number of volunteer events throughout the year that residents of all ages could get involved with.

The project rounded off in March 2022 with a celebration day for the local community and ERT volunteers. Over 40 people joined us at Ghyll Barn near Long Marton to find out more about the project, visit one of the project sites, and learn some fun volunteer skills from the experts – such as willow weaving, river habitat surveying, invertebrate ID, scything and apple tree grafting.

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