Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has begun an ambitious project to improve the water quality and wildlife in key parts of the Humber river basin district.
The Healthy Rivers project will reduce pollutants, erosion, control non-native invasive species and create new habitats to significantly increase water quality.
A UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority river system will create new wildlife habitats and open up sections of the River Laver to spawning fish. It will allow the passage of priority species including European eel, bullhead, brook, river and sea lamprey and brown trout.
Changes to land management practices, creating new riparian habitat and installing leaky dams, are part of the project.
The surveying and removal of Himalayan balsam, an invasive non-native species, is also being carried out in three headwater river waterbodies in Upper Nidderdale, including at a reservoir designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Sarah Kettlewell, Nidderdale AONB Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be working to improve the health of our rivers and its wildlife. It’s crucial at a time when more than 50% of species are in decline across the UK, many of them common. These actions will significantly increase the water quality of the waterbodies and improve the biodiversity of the surrounding areas.”
Education and training is being provided to local landowners and managers to promote best practice for the control of invasive non-native species and how to reduce sedimentation and pollution loads entering nearby watercourses.
The project is funded by a £229,000 Water Environment Grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).