We are proud to have been working along side the Westcountry Rivers Trust over the past couple of months. We were asked to assist them on a river conservations scheme concentrated mainly on the Lapford Yeo in Devon.
The main scope of the work was to help tackle diffuse pollution entering the watercourse. This is run off from farmland, forestry and roads. We also looked to improve the river habitat by coppicing trees on the banks of the river. This allowed more light on the faster flowing sections (riffles) which will be beneficial to future invertebrate and fish populations.
We felled some heavily leaning trees which threatened to fail. It could potentially compromise the flow but also damage the river banks which are already heavily eroded.
Several large windblown trees which had fallen as a result of storm damage during the winter were removed from the river. Dealing with wind blown trees can be tricky at the best of times. However, when they are stuck mid stream and blocking the flow, the logistics of getting the branches and timber onto the bank without heavy machinery were not straight forward. However, with cunning use of winches, some handy pulley systems on surrounding trees and some hard graft. We were able to gather all of the material. This was then extracted and stacked neatly above the flood line.
We removed several other debris dams (fallen trees and material that were blocking the flow) on the Yeo and a really big one on the Little Dart.
Of course safety is always at the forefront of our minds and this was particularly important when working in and around swollen rivers. All staff are suitably qualified and experienced, risk assessments and an emergency action plan are always in place before work commences.
We also learnt a lot about the river habitat from the WRT Team, thanks Phil, Shona and Matt for all your knowledge!
Other Conservation Programmes
On a separate scheme we worked with ecologists to construct an artificial otter holt on the river Lyd. All the materials were sourced from a nearby fallen sycamore tree. We selected suitable sections to build the walls and secured them in case of flooding. A group of students from a nearby school came to learn about the river environment. They also helped put the finishing touches to the roof. We hope it provides a home or shelter for someone in the future. It was great to be involved in such a worthwhile project.
It has been a pleasure to assist the trust on both these river conservations schemes and we hope to work together again in the near future. One of our aims for 2017 is to work on more conservations and river related contracts. We have loved working by (and in) the river, a very special environment indeed.