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Water for wildlife - Protecting our river habitats

Posted: Sunday 15th February 2015 by Waterforwildlife

Water for wildlife, Wirksworth, DerbyshireWater for wildlife, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, DWT

Learn all about our river work with Kay, Water for Wildlife Project Officer.

It’s a beautiful clear February afternoon and I have just got back from the second project day of the new phase of the Ecclesbourne Project. I can’t believe how much we have already achieved.

It really looked like it was going to be a nightmare. After two years of hard work restoring the Ecclesbourne Valley, the project ran out of money last Spring. Our project leader Chris Wood had to find another job (now working for National Trust up on the moors)and the long summer days went by while the frustrated volunteer team watched the Himalayan Balsam grow unchecked on the river banks and wondered if we would ever get a chance to get back out there. Eventually most of us drifted away to other things. I, who had been Chris’s voluntary assistant, got stuck into a lot of water vole work. Then, in October, my supervisor asked me if I could do a few days visiting farmers on the Ecclesbourne, seeing if we could get any projects booked. Hooray!

The Ecclesbourne Project was coming back to life!

So now we’re back, having been given £69,245 from SITA to do more habitat and erosion control work in the Ecclesbourne catchment. We’ve got 12 months of work funded and I’ve been employed part time to run organise the projects and do all the admin work. There will be some work for contractors doing big projects such as fencing off river banks etc. The volunteers from last year have, to my surprise, decided that they want to take part so much they are going to do work on the Ecclesbourne AS WELL as all the things they’ve signed up for in the intervening time. From next week we’ll be joined by new recruits garnered through posters, e-mail appeals and my (terrifying!) radio interview on Radio Derby.

Today, in glorious sunshine, we planted a small woodland, with a mix of species picked to mimic a natural woodland in this area of lowland Derbyshire – oaks and birches, with a sprinkling of rowan, crab apple, hawthorn, hazel, cherries and other species. It’s going to be gorgeous.
Last week we did some coppicing along a stream at Millington Green, finishing the day by building an otter holt overlooking a tiny frozen waterfall. It’s such a privilege to be in these secret places of Derbyshire – often well away from roads or footpaths, knowing that what we are doing will make a positive difference.

Next week? We’ll be by the main Ecclesbourne itself in Idridgehay, coppicing trees along the river bank to increase the amount of light getting to the river and it’s banks. Why not come and join us?


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