Volunteers of all ages came out to help plant over 10,000 wetland wildflower plants as part of an ongoing river restoration project on the River Lyvennet near King’s Meaburn.
Last year, Eden Rivers Trust dug two large ponds at Littlebeck Farm on the floodplain of the river as part of a two-year Eden River Restoration project. Funded by the Environment Agency, it’s one of a suite of projects that form Cumbria’s River Restoration Strategy.
Now it’s spring, the Trust wanted to give nature a bit of a head start by planting up the edges of the pond with a variety of British wetland wildflowers.
Over 12 days, people of all ages volunteered their time in sunshine and in rain to meet the challenge of planting 10,000 wildflowers.
From the whole of Crosby Ravensworth CE Primary School, year 4 and 5 classes from nearby Morland Primary School, home-schooled teenagers, Newton Rigg College students, to staff from the Environment Agency plus volunteers and staff from Eden Rivers Trust, all braved the mud armed with trowels and tiny plant plugs!
Over 30 different species were planted, including Marsh marigolds, Water mint, Bull rush, Ragged robin, Yellow flag iris, Purple loosestrife and Common reeds which will be able to cope with varying levels of water in the pond and provide much needed nectar for our pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Lev Dahl, the Trust’s River Restoration Manager who co-ordinates the River Lyvennet project said, “This is a really exciting project for us – helping to reconnect the river with its floodplain. These ponds will help to store flood water so slowing the flow of water into the river at high peaks and at the same time creating fabulous wetlands for wildlife.”
Jenni Payne, the Trust’s Community Outreach and Volunteer Co-ordinator added, “Being able to involve the community in the creation of the ponds is so important, as they can experience first-hand what we’re doing and why. The school children were amazing, they had a great time, really getting stuck in and asking all sorts of interesting questions”.
Creating these wetlands is just the first phase of this exciting river restoration project. This summer will see the creation of rapids in the river, a third large pond and removal of concrete banks to be replaced by willow spiling – living willow ‘fences’ that will help protect the river bank. Together, these will improve the river’s habitats, restore the natural river processes and help to reduce potential flood risk further downstream. This summer will see the bulk of the work being completed and the last pond will be planted up in Spring 2020 finishing this stretch of river restoration.