Habitat Enhancements at Rannerdale

29th April 2022 - Derwent Catchment

We’ve recently been working with the farmer at Rannerdale Farm to fence off the lakeside and Squat Beck. This means that livestock are restricted from these areas, with the aim being to protect water quality and improve habitat diversity. Once fenced off, the longer lakeside grasslands can act as a buffer to capture agricultural inputs. 

Riparian fencing along the shore of Crummock Water

One of the great consequences of these riparian fencing projects are the benefits to insects and small mammals. Once sheep or cattle are excluded from an area, the vegetation can grow to maturity and flower. These flowers are important for providing nectar for butterflies and bees.  The longer grass provides shelter for frogs, newts, hedgehogs and voles. In many areas, we see a profusion of woodland flowers such as primroses, wood anemone, wood sorrel, bluebells, violets and yellow pimpernel. These seem to bounce back remarkably quickly and it’s very rewarding for the farmers and for us to see such rapid change. These rough grassland areas complement the shorter-grazed adjacent pastures which have value for other insects such as beetles and often the pastures are carpeted in clover, with bees making the most of the nectar source.

We have also fenced off Squat Beck (which runs through the farm from the High Rannerdale area). The fencing was previously very close to the beck, and with heavy rains and a very erodible bank, had fallen into the beck and was no longer stock-proof. The farmer positioned the fence to include the floodplain, thus reducing the risk of the fence being damaged by floodwater. Again, these areas of long vegetation will allow for flowering which will benefit insects and small mammals. We’ll return in the spring/summer to see how the area has fared and what species are growing. It will be grazed for a short period of time in the late summer, to retain it as grassland.

The work we do is dependent upon farmers and landowners working closely with us, and sharing ideas and best practise. We endeavour to continue this collaborative working and have seen some amazing results. With a focus now on the Environmental Land Management Schemes for farmers and landowners (which are entirely voluntary), now is the perfect time for farmers and environmental charities such as ours, to work collaboratively to achieve a multitude of benefits for farming and for wildlife. 

For more information contact project office Annabelle at annabelle@westcumbriariverstrust.org