The Catchment Partnership Action Funds (CPAF) come from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and are for habitat improvements in rivers within each partnership area.
Before we can improve the habitat in rivers we need to get to know the river, its character, what species could be present and what issues there may be which we could improve. To do this we do walkover surveys looking at the vegetation types, land use, fencing condition, the amount of silt present, what the river bed is made of, what the riverbanks are made of and most importantly who manages and uses the land next to the river.
Once we know the river well we can start organising what habitat improvements could be done and where, making sure that no wildlife or people are adversely affected by the work we do
Our most common habitat improvement is to fence livestock away from watercourses to reduce the sediment and nutrient load entering and smothering aquatic species. Often when we fence off a watercourse we try to include a buffer strip or corridor alongside the river where we plant trees, these trees provide shelter for wildlife, the roots of the trees bind the river banks together and the trees use up any excess nutrients which may be running off agricultural land so preventing it reaching the river. Trees also use up a lot of water and can be beneficial in reducing the size of floods.
Other habitat improvements include coppicing large trees which have become unstable and are about to fall over, this process results in smaller bushier trees which have large roots. And sometimes the trees we coppice are used to create large woody debris, where tree branches are pinned to the edge of the river. This wooded debris provides fish with a place to shelter from predatory birds (and fishermen!!) and it also slows the flow of water, trapping sediment and helping prevent further erosion of that stretch. We may also try to provide better drinking water areas for livestock or cross drains on farm tracks; all to help prevent nutrients and sediment entering the river.
In 2015/16 all three of our management catchments have funds for habitat improvements. These are being concentrated on the River Waver, the River Ellen and the River Annas. For more information on the progress of each of these three projects please click on the river names above.