Sunday, April 5, 2015

Fencing Rivers….What's that all that about then?

As people drive past Ellers I can hear their voices in my head, why have they fenced the river off? They have spoilt the view of the river, that fence will never last don’t they know the river floods!

It’s true the first major job we have done is to fence off over 300 metres of river. Well of course there is the common sense reason for this, we need to fence our boundary to keep livestock in, but there are some subtle and to the untrained eye hidden and more overwhelming conservation gains.

Cattle wandering in the river are an idyllic scene but then again large animals such as cattle can cause damage to rivers and their banks if left unmanaged. Farmers often removed their livestock in winter to prevent pouching to fields but if you have cattle in a river environment even in the summer you are going to get some form of damage.

Damaged caused by livestock
In our case the River Bela is one of the best places in South Cumbria for spawning trout and salmon. Over the years past cattle grazing has resulted in the river banks becoming eroded, the river bed has become compacted in places and not to mention the pollution that livestock muck can cause a river. We also have some fantastic mature Alder trees on the river bank. These lovely trees have nearly been nibbled so much that if it had continued it would mean they would most certainly have had a shorter life.  

So the fence at the moment may not look pretty and yes a big flood may come and take it all away but we hope that by doing this we have halted soil erosion and in time the river will naturally build up its bank again, we are preventing river pollution, protecting fish spawning grounds and giving our Alders a new lease of life so they can truly become veteran trees.

If you would like help fencing off your river, stream or beck you may be able to get funding via your local Rivers Trust, Environment Agency or through an agri-environment Scheme (Environmental Stewardship/New Environmental Land Management Scheme).

One  of our great Alder trees

Our fencing was part funded from grant funding found by South Cumbria Rivers Trust (  or    in partnership with Milnthorpe Angling Association.

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