The sun was shining this weekend as our team of willing volunteers set about the task of installing berms (low level shelves) into the Beck on Waterwheel Lane in Branston and what an incredible turnout we had.
The hardworking team of ten on Saturday included Environment Agency staff keen to share not only their time but their knowledge and expertise, members of the local Parish Council and volunteers from this and nearby Lincolnshire communities along with Nick from Lions Grasscare. Our project officer, Gail was overwhelmed by the number of people willing to give up their free time to help to make a difference for the wildlife and people of Branston.
Previously the beck had been a little neglected (see photograph) and had become very overgrown, so the first task in the previous week was to get in some forestry experts to thin out the trees. The willow wood chip arisings were then used to resurface the woodland pathway and the other woody debris was used to backfill some of the berms. By thinning the trees, more light was allowed into the stream enabling the aquatic plants to re-establish and provide a healthier water environment with both food and shelter for wildlife.
The berms were installed to create a meander in the watercourse, the narrowing effect speeding up the flow which causes the water to scour the stream bed and clean the gravels. In turn this creates ideal spawning ground for fish as well as shelter in the eddying pools. The berms will also trap sediment, reducing build up in the channel and, over time, vegetation will grow, and they will look like a natural part of the bank.
After just a few hours the visible difference was remarkable, the flow had increased, and we could already see the meander. By close of day on Sunday the task was almost complete, and we had spoken to many passers by about what we were trying to achieve with lots of positive feedback. A further five volunteers turned up on Wednesday to help us finish off the work. As with all habitat projects they are long term and whilst the area may look a little bare and ‘raw’ in the short term, it won’t be long before the trees are sprouting up again, the plants are growing and this little waterside, woodland haven will be full of colour, birdsong and wildlife.
A big THANK YOU must go out to the Parish Council for their support, the local residents for their patience whilst the works were taking place and their positive comments, Adam and team from Watmough’s Forestry, Nick at Lions Grasscare, the Environment Agency for their expert advice and voluntary manpower and last but not least, the 16 AMAZING volunteers – without whom none of our work would be possible proving the adage that many hands do make light work!
We look forward to coming back next spring to plant some more native aquatic flowering plants on the berms along the water’s edge and will be looking for more willing volunteers…
For more information about volunteering or about getting your school or group closer to nature please contact our Project Officer firstname.lastname@example.org