Testing a 'Stage zero' approach to river restoration
Sometimes "less is more" when it comes to river restoration...
Fish will now find it easier to reach their vital spawning grounds thanks to the removal of an artificial barrier on the River Petteril in Harraby Green, Carlisle.
This was a partnership project between the Environment Agency and ourselves to remove a disused structure from the river, enabling fish to move more freely along this section of river and improving conditions for all wildlife to thrive.
Migratory fish populations are in decline
There are many factors that contribute to this, such as barriers to migration, overfishing, disease and loss of habitat.
Lev Dahl, River Restoration Manager, Eden Rivers Trust said:
Given the challenges Eden’s rivers face – from our changing climate, pollution, population growth and increased water demand, now is the time to take action to ensure we have healthy rivers with clean water that support future generations of wildlife … and people.
Enabling rivers to function more naturally will give species the time and the habitats they need to adapt and thrive. This project is a small step towards achieving that resilience.
Removing artificial barriers is one thing that can be done relatively easily to help make their annual migration a less challenging experience. It makes it easier for adult fish to return to their spawning grounds further upstream in the Eden catchment and also allows smolts (younger fish) to migrate more freely downstream ready to head out to sea once they have matured.
Artificial structures are not just a physical barrier, they also change the nature of the riverbed
They prevent the formation of features such as riffles, pools and gravel bars that support the wide variety of insects and small fish that other water-dependent species such as mayflies, otters, birds and bats rely on.
Projects such as this help to restore the mosaic of habitats and natural river processes that are essential for a healthy river system.
The removal was carried out by Ebsford Environmental, aquatic restoration contractors who are experienced in delivering barrier removal projects in Northern England.
Olly Southgate, Environment Agency Cumbria’s Restoration Programme Manager said:
It’s great that we are able to fund this project through our Water Environment Improvement Fund. The works will help to improve our rivers and lead to a more diverse population of fish for future generations to enjoy. It will also allow the river to return to a more natural state, improving habitats and creating a better home for all wildlife. We look forward to the completion of this project and the benefits it will bring.
Ben Fisher, Head of Projects, Ebsford Environmental said:
We have been working with rivers trusts and the Environment Agency for several years now to remove barriers throughout Cumbria. Through intricate planning and delicate removal, we will protect the downstream river environment, whilst enabling easier passage for fish once again.