Project Partners: Lincolnshire Rivers Trust (lead partner), Environment Agency, Wild Trout Trust
Project Leader: Paige Donnelly (Project Officer) | Paige.email@example.com
Project Objective: The overall objective of this project is to improve and prevent the deterioration of these spring fed water bodies in central Lincolnshire on a catchment scale, while engaging with local communities.
Project Status: Ongoing since 2015
The Lincolnshire Rivers Trust works in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust, delivering projects across the county to improve our limestone becks. Our project, Bringing the Limestone Becks back to Life, has helped several limestone becks including Branston, Nettleham, Welton, Scopwick and Dunston Beck (see below). Using a range of techniques, we have enhanced the habitat to improve biodiversity.
Limestone Becks provide unique habitat as they are spring fed by groundwater filtering up through the limestone ridge which runs down the western side of the county. Having filtered through the limestone rock the water is clear and the flow rate and temperature are consistent. This creates ideal habitat for freshwater wildlife. Sadly however, Lincolnshire’s limestone becks have historically suffered from over abstraction and habitat degradation due to straightening and widening the channels. These pressures have damaged these environments to such an extent that all of them are substantially poorer ecologically than they should be. There is one exception however, the Lower Cringle Brook on the upper Witham. This is a high-quality beck supporting a range of plant and animal species, and acts as a great example for which we should aim to replicate in our other limestone becks.
We aim to work with communities to enable ownership of their local river, to allow inclusive decision making and active participation. A community-based approach will offer volunteers opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge whilst improving river habitat in a safe way. There are several techniques we can use to enhance habitat within the beck, all of which require putting on some wellies and getting stuck in the beck to do some practical work. Installing brushwood faggots into a curved structure for example, will create what is called a berm. The curved design will improve the becks sinuosity (wiggle) and it provides an area for sediments and other organic minerals to build up, including soil, silt, and fertile seeds. Over time they become vegetated creating habitat for freshwater species. This is just one of the low-key techniques we can use to enhance the rivers in-channel habitat.