Partnership work delivers for nature and farming in St. John's in the Vale

26th June 2023 - General Catchment

Organisations and community join forces on a project that’s good for nature, farming and local suppliers

West Cumbria Rivers Trust have teamed up with The Woodland Trust and a local timber supplier to complete a project at Bridge House near Wanthwaite Bridge in St. John’s in the Vale.

The landowner and tenant both expressed an interest in adding more trees to the farm both along the river and on the grazing land adjacent. WCRT set up a taskforce to carry out multiple deliverables across the site. River improvements were made to St. John’s Beck by creating new in-channel features to improve fish habitat and promote a more natural action of the river. The Woodland Trust contributed expert advice and funded the tree planting element of the project.

Over 1000 trees were planted in small groups creating greater connectivity of the existing wood pasture habitat. The outcome is discreet clusters of shrubs and trees across the farm with the majority of the pasture left open for grazing. In time, the trees will provide shelter for grazing livestock, reducing the impact of extreme weather conditions, as well as supplementing their diet and improving livestock health. The trees will also enhance the local landscape, improving biodiversity by encouraging more wildlife to the area and will help to mitigate against the negative impacts of our changing climate.

The team built more than 80 in-field cages during the planting to ensure the trees are protected from grazing until they are robust enough to sustain themselves.

Jonny Kidd, Project Officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust said:

“This is a fantastic example of how local organisations and the community work together to deliver positive outcomes that work for everyone. The timber that was sourced for the wooden tree cages was grown a couple of miles along the road in Thirlmere and was milled and supplied to site by local contractor Jamie Chaplin-Brice of Wudwork. The cages were built and trees planted by our dedicated volunteer group who gave over 400 hours of their time to the project.”

Steve Hebblethwaite, Outreach Advisor at The Woodland Trust said:

“It has been really great to work in partnership with West Cumbria Rivers Trust and such a dedicated group of local folk, and witness first-hand NGO’s, landowners and farm tenants, local contractors and volunteers working together to protect and enhance this place we all love.”

“The trees established on the site as part of this impactful project will mitigate the impacts of climate change, aid nature’s recovery, on the land and in the water, and deliver benefits to the farm business, in the form of increased shade and shelter – helping to create a world where trees and woods thrive for people and nature.”

If you’re a farmer or landowner and would like to find out more about how West Cumbria Rivers Trust can support your conservation goals, please contact them at

St. John’s Beck Habitats Improvement Project is funded by United Utilities and supported by the Environment Agency and Natural England.

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Video & image credits: Finlay Sleath