Heavily modified rivers can take years to recover, but Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are hoping to speed up that process with the aim of helping wildlife in the local area.
With funding from the Veolia Environmental Trust and the Environment Agency, as well as the support of the Land Trust and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), they’ll transform a straight, narrow and polluted section of Cramfit Brook, near Dinnington, in to a meandering, wildlife-rich watercourse.
The brook cuts through a magnesium limestone National Character Area (NCA), carrying water from Dinnington town to Anston Brook. High phosphate levels, likely from urban areas upstream, accelerate the growth of some plants, creating an imbalance in the habitat which has adverse effects on other plants and wildlife.
To counteract this, and boost habitat diversity, one kilometre of the brook will be widened and a six metre flood plain will be created on either side. The intended result is a winding brook with a two-stage channel, creating a larger wetland habitat for wildlife and allowing phosphate-carrying sediment to settle.
The planned improvements align with the Wildlife Trust’s vision for a connected, living landscape. Rivers are natural corridors between wildlife-friendly areas, and helping them to flourish allows wildlife to move around the countryside.
Jamie McEwan, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes Team Leader, said: “The project is a real priority for water quality and wildlife in the Anston Brook. It’s a great partnership project and an opportunity to create some fantastic wetland habitat, as well as engage local people in nature conservation.”
Around 50 volunteers from the local area, including 20 from nearby schools and colleges, will be helping wildlife on their doorstep by contributing over 500 hours of volunteer time to the project.
While excavations will be carried out by a local contractor, volunteers will help by doing practical conservation work and monitoring the stream before and after the works take place.
With the project scheduled for completion within a year, it is hoped that the site will soon be attracting a diverse array of wildlife; the newly-created environment should allow creatures like water voles and kingfishers to thrive.