In Praise of Eden Rivers Trust and Partners for Crayfish Conservation, Cherish Eden, Riparian Fisheries Planning, Flood Alleviation and More!

Native White-Clawed Crayfish Ede

Eden Rivers Trust Winter Newsletter edition 26 from www.edenriverstrust.org.uk

Eden Rivers Trust Winter Newsletter edition 26 from http://www.edenriverstrust.org.uk

The Winter edition of The Eden Rivers Trust Newsletter is out now and it relates how Eden Rivers Trust staff and local volunteers are engaging with important projects that protect riparian habitat, its wildlife and community interests in the Eden Valley’s river catchment area,  clicking the image on the left will download their latest newsletter. Since its establishment in 1996, ERT has completed 200 projects to improve the condition of the river for its wildlife and for people’s enjoyment.

The ERT’s Winter Newsletter announces the great news that a £473,618 Defra grant will empower them to further improve the condition of rivers in the Eden River catchment and so improve the prospects for our native white-clawed crayfish, sadly threatened and declining across the UK and Western Europe. ERT is working effectively with a range of volunteers and key partner organisations on the front lines of river conservation to protect the river system in our internationally recognised Special Area of Conservation.

The new grant follows the ERT’s successful completion of a SITA Trust conservation project in the Appleby area.

According to an ERT press release issued today (17th Dec), Eden Rivers Trust staff in partnership with The SITA Trust and volunteers of varied ages and walks of life, have just completed a three year, £138,000 conservation project, working in two Cumbrian rivers, the Hoff and Helm Becks near Appleby, for the benefit of native crayfish and other wildlife and all who appreciate them.

Achievements in this project include:

  • 8329 m of riverside fencing established to protect the banks from farm animals;
  • 5350 trees have been planted along rivers to stabilise river banks and provide food and hiding places for wildlife;
  • 214 sites were surveyed for native crayfish, with the help of 77 volunteers;
  • 5 crayfish survey training days held, attended by 61 volunteers;
  • 3871 people have been told about the plight of native crayfish in Cumbria by the Trust attending 40 events and giving 56 talks to local groups;
  • 2 Cumbria University undergraduates completed their conservation projects on crayfish and received a First Class mark for them.

Volunteering for rivers and their wildlife

The Trust expressed their profound gratitude to all the volunteers for their time and effort, and to all the land owners for allowing surveys to take place. Volunteers engaged in the project have have ranged from retired people interested in the river, to local anglers and staff from businesses such as Ullswater Steamer Company, Barclays Bank and the Outward Bound Trust  to pupils from QEGS Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith and students from Cumbria University and other universities.

Joanne Backshall, Conservation Officer with Eden Rivers Trust, said, “This amazing creature is threatened with extinction.  Improving the rivers in the county for crayfish will benefit not only this endangered species but all the wildlife associated with rivers.  Healthy, attractive rivers are also of benefit to people in providing clean water supplies and creating beautiful landscapes for locals and visitors to enjoy.  We are grateful to SITA Trust for their financial support for this very valuable conservation project.”

The Hoff and Helm Becks project has been funded by SITA Trust, an organisation which supports worthy environmental and social projects improving vital public recreation facilities such as village halls, community centres, sport, green spaces and play areas, through the Landfill Communities Fund. The LCF has donated over £1 billion to date and powerfully helped the nation.  The LCF distributes funds donated by the recycling and resource management company SITA UK, as of writing the SITA Trust have donated over £92 million, helping 3000 projects through the fund!

Jools Granville of SITA Trust said, “This has been an amazing project with some serious benefits and we are so proud to be a partner in it. We have been humbled by the hard work and dedication of Eden Rivers Trust and the many volunteers, landowners and members of the public who have come together to work towards a more sustainable future for this fantastic and seriously endangered species. Cumbria is such an important location for these crayfish and it’s vital that the good work already undertaken is built upon in the future. ”

The ERT Winter Newsletter tells us that this is precisely what will happen and more besides! Here’s a glimpse of the content:

  • Water Friendly Farming  The Trust is working with farmers to benefit farms and the environment, acting as a buffer between farmers and legislation in partnerships for water quality (To date the ERT has worked with about 200 farms)
  • Miles of progress in battle against invasive species The Trust is battling against powerful invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and the poisonous Giant Hogweed to protect our local species and prevent degradation of habitat. The useful work around Ullswater features in this edition.
  • Adapting Land use for Flood Alleviation Increasingly important work in collaboration with Newton Rigg College to slow water run-off into the rivers helping to reduce flooding by introducing a variety of techniques. (To date the ERT has planted 200 farms)
  • Cherish Eden Initial support of over £100,000 in Heritage Lottery Funding has been won in the first phase, spearheading  a potentially larger project.
  • Eden charity bike ride A fundraising team including local residents rode the entire length of the Eden to raise money for Eden House Children’s Hospice!

and …

White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), native to the UK, held by Conservation Officer Joanne Backshall.

Precious and vulnerable, the White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), native to the UK, carefully held by Conservation Officer Joanne Backshall. Linda Pitkin Photo

Endangered Native Crayfish Conservation

Eden Rivers Trust tell us that the native, white-clawed crayfish is endangered and rapidly declining across Western Europe.  It is being wiped out by non-native species of crayfish, particularly the North American signal crayfish, and the disease they carry, crayfish plague, which is caused by a fungus.  Native crayfish are also disappearing because many of the rivers in which they occur do not have the right conditions for them to feed, breed and thrive.

Cumbria contains the UK’s only extensive populations of White-Clawed Crayfish with neither a plague infestation, nor the presence of non-native signal crayfish.  The most important of these are in the Rivers Eden and Kent.  Cumbria is vital in a European context because it remains the UK stronghold for the native species according to ERT.

You can learn more about this endangered species on the Eden River Trust’s dedicated white-clawed crayfish page. The site also provides guidance on how to avoid spreading Crayfish Plague from one river to another. We have to be wary of this because the Signal Crayfish have invaded The River Derwent.

These very fine pictures and others taken by Linda Pitkin, including some lovely split views showing river scenes above and below the water line, can be viewed on her Eden Rivers web page http://www.lindapitkin.net/Eden_Rivers/index.html

Native Crayfish by Linda Pitkin

Note the underside of the claws are white. Native White-Clawed Crayfish in river bed habitat by Linda Pitkin

Readers interested in The Eden Rivers Trust and its work, and potential volunteers and donors are invited to contact the Eden Rivers Trust, Dunmail Building, Newton Rigg College, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0AH
Tel: 01768 866788 | e-mail: office@edenrt.org  | www.edenriverstrust.org.uk
Registered Charity Number 1123588 Company limited by guarantee number 06460807

Registered in England and Wales

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