The Scorton Habitat Scheme Project was completed in May 2015. The funding which we received from the Lancashire Environmental Fund and the assistance from the Woodland Trust allowed us to install; 1,509m of Fencing, 2 Livestock Drinking Stations, 1,600 Trees and 1 Interpretation Panel. As a result of this scheme the riparian habitat in this area has improved dramatically with increased plant cover, biodiversity and reduced soil compaction. A wide range of terrestrial species have moved into the area and are now taking advantage of the improved habitat. The River Wyre is also benefiting with reduced levels of diffuse and point source pollution and reduced sediment loads which will support both invertebrate and fish populations within the riverine environment.
The aim of this project was to fence a large double bank section of the River Wyre in Scorton. The fenced area was planted with around 1,600 trees thus creating a buffer zone. Over time this buffer zone will become a rich and diverse habitat alongside the river which will support a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial species.
This section of the Wyre was unfenced which allowed livestock to access the river. This caused a number of problems, firstly when the livestock are constantly access the river in the same area they trample the plants which are present causing them to die. This poses a problem for the river bank as there is now no stabilisation of the bank from the roots of the plant. The problem is then exacerbated by the movement of stock over the area which loosens soil further therefore leading to erosion of the bank. Any sediment which makes its way into the river has the potential to pollute the river and reduce its clarity, thus making it easier for faecal bacteria to survive in the water. If the sediment contains clay it can begin to form a thick film on gravels in the river, this can prevent migratory and non migratory fish from spawning.
Another issue at the site is overgrazing, because cattle and sheep are allowed full access to the bank it means that the whole bank can be grazed. Consequently the only plants which can grow in the area are grasses and low growing perennial species. The height of the vegetation means that surface water runoff can make its way into the river very quickly. Not only does cause problems for flood risk management it also means that any faecal matter which is present on the banks of the river can be washed into the river causing pollution. The creation of a fenced and planted buffer zone will slow the flow of water helping flood risk management and reducing the impact of diffuse pollution.
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