Proposal to bring back beavers to Welsh rivers


Following the release of  beavers into an enclosure in Cwm Einion near Machynlleth, Powys  2 years ago, the Welsh Beaver Project has published a report outlining a proposal to release beavers back into the river valleys of Wales. In an article by the BBC proponents of the project argue that the beavers will cut flood risk and help boost biodiversity. Project co-ordinator Adrian LLoyd Jones told the BBC that beavers are'gentle and effective managers of wetland and river woodland habitat and that beaver dams would help reduce flash floods by slowing down rivers in spate'

Rare dragonfly found on the River Nene following restoration


A rare dragonfly has been discovered on the River Nene following Environment Agency work to improve habitat.

The scarce chaser dragonfly (Libellula fulva)  was discovered on Castor Backwater, near to the villages of Castor and Ailsworth, during a survey to assess how effective a restoration project there had been.

Chris Extence, Environment Monitoring Team Leader, said: “We are monitoring our river restoration project on Castor Backwater to see how successful it has been. We have already received good feedback from local anglers about fish using the area to spawn. Now, we have also noted the appearance of the scarce chaser dragonfly.

“This is great news and shows that the project is already helping to improve this stretch of the River Nene.”

The scare chaser dragonfly is native to the UK. It is officially recognised as being rare and the species is deemed to be of national importance.

Chris said: “We have only found this species once before on the Nene, a single specimen being found at Lilford Bridge in 2007. This new finding is of considerable importance as it shows that other parts of the river, withsuitable habitat, are capable of supporting breeding populations of this rare and very attractive dragonfly.”

The Castor Backwater restoration project was carried out by the Environment Agency with support from the Nene Park Trust. It aimed to protect and improve important wildlife and coarse fish habitat and included repairing and re-profiling the river’s banks, installing fencing and cattle-drinkers and creating two fish-refuge ponds. The ponds provide areas for fish to shelter from high flows. Newly installed gravel on the river bed has provided much needed spawning habitat for fish.

The Castor Backwater project followed a survey carried out by the Wildlife Trust in 2010. It cost £40,000 and took around five weeks to complete.

Short-term monitoring of the project is now complete, but the Environment Agency intends to revisit the site later this year to check on progress.


Work starts to restore beck in Pickering UK


Work starts today (Monday) to restore a North Yorkshire beck back to a more natural state, to improve the habitat for wildlife.

The beck has been prioritised as in need of work because, while the quality of water in the beck is good, it does not have the amount of fish and other species it should have.

Costa Beck, which is fed by natural underground springs, runs west of Pickering and has been heavily engineered in the past to straighten, deepen and widen the channel to help with drainage and flood risk. This engineering has significantly reduced the beck’s value for wildlife.  

Around one kilometre of the beck will be re-shaped this week to a more natural character by forming shallow edges, deep pools and shallow riffle areas, which will help improve habitat diversity, encouraging more species such as grayling and brown trout.

Paul Slater, project manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We have worked with partners and the local angling club to try and address this problem for some time.

"We now hope that this solution will significantly improve the habitat over time, encouraging wildlife back to the beck and increasing fish stocks. If this trial area is successful we will extend the approach further downstream.”

Nigel Holmes, a national expert in river restoration, will lead the work with the Environment Agency’s operations delivery team.

Nigel said: “This should be relatively straightforward to achieve and will greatly improve the vitality and environmental quality of the beck without compromising the flood risk. Dramatic improvements in wildlife and fish populations have been observed elsewhere on similar rivers in other parts of the country when this kind of work has been carried out.”

The team will start work on site with a digger to move the earth and begin to recreate the natural features that should be found in the beck.

The work is in partnership with the local landowners and the Pickering Fishery Association.

The project will cost around £25,000 and is funded through the Water Framework Directive, which aims to improve water bodies across the country where water quality is failing.

More information on the Water Framework Directive can be found here: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wfd 


Does putting a price on rivers and rainfall diminish us all ?


In his typically lively and thought provoking manner, George Monbiot  of the Guardian, stepped into the fray with his analysis of ecosystem services on Monday. Monbiot says 'The argument in favour of this approach is coherent and plausible. Business currently treats the natural world as if it is worth nothing. Pricing nature and incorporating that price into the cost of goods and services creates an economic incentive for its protection. It certainly appeals to both busines and the self-hating state. The Ecosystems Markets Task Force speaks of ''substantial potential growth in nature-related markets- in the order of billions of pounds globally'.

But he says 'it doesn't end there. Once a resource has been commodified, speculators and traders step in'.