According to an Eden Rivers Trust News Release issued May 12th, 2014, over a mile of the River Lyvennet near Penrith is being restored to its natural state to benefit wildlife and people. The river will once again be allowed to meander as it did decades ago, in a partnership project involving Eden Rivers Trust, the land owner, tenant farmer, Environment Agency and Natural England.
The River Lyvennet and its tributaries were straightened many years ago when it was thought that this was good for farming. Now conservationists are promoting the benefits of making it more natural again.
The work will help people and wildlife in many ways. Meanders are beneficial because they lessen the gradient of the river and therefore slow the flow, recreating a variety of features which are absent from straightened rivers. Examples include pools capable of supporting larger fish, shallow margins where freshwater plants can establish, shingle banks which are important for insects and gravel beds where fish can lay their eggs.
This diversity supports a much wider variety of insects, fish and other wildlife than man-made channels. Examples of animals which will benefit include salmon, trout, native crayfish, otters, kingfishers and dippers.
The land owner and farmer will benefit because the meandering channel will be fenced to keep animals out of the river where they can pick up parasites and diseases. Slowing the flow and excluding farm animals will also stabilise the river banks and reduce the risk of erosion and flooding which are a problem for people and property.
The first phase of work will involve digging out the old river channel of the Howe Beck and River Lyvennet, downstream of Maulds Meaburn. Carlisle company Cubby are carrying out the work. The river will then be diverted into the restored channel. The impact upon river wildlife will be minimised by diverting the channel gradually, with fish and crayfish transferred from the current channel to the newly dug one.
Eden Rivers Trust Project Officer Gareth Pedley said, “The interest and enthusiasm of the land owner and tenant farmer have created a fantastic opportunity for the river to function more naturally. This is a great example of what could be done in many other areas of the Eden Valley, with significant benefits for wildlife and people.”
Oliver Southgate, Project Manager for the Environment Agency, said, “The delivery of this ambitious restoration project on the Lyvennet is testament to the true value of our partnership and working towards a shared goal of improving our environment for wildlife and people. We are proud to be part of this great work.”
Simon Humphries, Natural England Area Manager, said, “The River Eden is a jewel in Cumbria’s crown for wildlife. Re-meandering the river will increase the habitat in the river for rare species such as white-clawed crayfish. The Lyvennet restoration, incorporating Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme, shows how room can be made for the river within farmland.”
For more informaton about Eden Rivers Trust, a charity set up in 1996 to conserve the beautiful River Eden in Cumbria and its hundred of miles of tributaries, please visit www.edenriverstrust.org.uk.