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Transformation of Clifton Beck continues with help of local community

Monday 11th September 2017

Taking water samples at Clifton Beck Taking water samples at Clifton Beck

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and local people in Brighouse are working restore the ailing Clifton Beck, with the aim of turning it in to a wildlife haven. Focusing their efforts at three key sites, Trust employees and volunteers are improving woodland, creating green corridors for wild creatures and making a safe space for local nature lovers to experience the area.

Clifton Beck had previously been designated as one of the poorest functioning rivers in the UK. Last year, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and partners over £74,000 to restore it, with the aim of giving wildlife more space to recover, improving biodiversity and helping the community to recognise the value of their local environment.

In June and July, swathes of Himalayan Balsam were pulled out from the banks to stop this invasive species from setting seed and spreading further in to our precious countryside. If you’ve been down to a river lately, you might have spotted the slender leaves and delicate pink flowers of this plant lining the banks. It was once used as an ornamental species, but left unchecked it can cause soil erosion which changes the shape of river banks and causes rivers to silt up. It can be easily pulled by hand, but the sheer volume of this plant at Clifton Beck means there’s still a way to go.

As well as pulling invasive species out, teams have been working hard to put more useful species in. At Bobby Green Farm in Queensbury a total of 520 trees have been planted on either side of the beck, reducing surface water run-off to prevent erosion and diffuse pollution along the waterway.

'Our volunteers have done a fantastic job so far but we still have so much more to do.' Project Officer Seonaidh Jamieson

Volunteers have also been collecting water samples each month to record the number and type of species present – valuable data which will help to shape conservation work in the future. As Riverflies and other freshwater invertebrates are very sensitive to shifts in water quality, keeping a close eye on them can be key to understanding any changes along the Clifton Beck watercourse.

Project officer Seonaidh Jamieson said: ‘Over the coming months we’ll be undertaking woodland management and creating new wildlife corridors, as well as continuing our invasive species removal work. The next challenge for the team is to improve access from Wellhome Park in Brighouse, creating a safe area for families to get close to the beck and spot all of the wildlife it has to offer. Our volunteers have done a fantastic job so far but we still have so much more to do and need more people to get involved.’

New volunteers are always welcome, and no prior experience is necessary. If you’d like to get involved with the project, contact Seonaidh Jamieson at seonaidh.jamieson@ywt.org.uk or on 01484 663185 for more details.