Catchment Restoration Fund
The Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF) is as nationwide fund designated to improve the health of river ecosystems via habitat restoration and pollution reduction measures. Started in 2012 and intended to run over three years, the fund intends to tackle issues highlighted under the Water Framework Directive. The Westcountry Rivers trust has been allocated over £4 million to lead and deliver restoration works within the Westcountry. This has been split over 5 projects designed to target specific issues within each catchment.
South Cornwall River Improvement Project
In 2012, the South Cornwall River Improvement Project (SCRIP) received funds from the Catchment Restoration Fund in order to improve the ecological status of the rivers within the South Cornwall and St Austell Bay area in accordance with the Water Framework Directive. The project is formed in partnership with several organisations that have invested interest in the ecological wellbeing of the catchment. This partnership, led by the West Country Rivers Trust, has been carrying out restoration works and addressing the causes of Water Framework Directive issues.
Through restoration work and close collaboration with landowners, the project will address many of the issues that are preventing the river gaining good ecological status, these include:
- Flow modifications and Habitat degradation – by re-creating a range of flow conditions and habitats, The river provides a variety of niche habitats for spawning fish and aquatic invertebrates. This results in creating a stable and diverse community within the ecosystem.
- Interrupted conveyance of river gravels reducing spawning habitats for salmonids.- Channel modification results in a uniform flow rate which washes away the smaller gravels needed for spawning fish. By recreating riffle and pools and introducing gravels back into the system, favourable spawning conditions are created.
- Impacts from china clay extraction and historic mining – Cornwall has a strong mining heritage, however many of these mines have closed and collapsed. Run off from these areas can contribute high levels of metals to rivers, presenting a potential risk to fish stocks.
- diffuse pollution from agriculture. – The chemical composition of the water can have a significant impact on the fish population within a river. By working with farmers to improve farm infrastructure we can significantly reduce potential sources of pollution from entering the river. Simple measures, such as fencing preventing livestock entering and contaminating the river can go a long way in raising the ecological status of the system.
- barriers to fish migration – simple things like underground culverts can have severe impacts on migratory fish such as salmon. By finding potential obstructions and applying mitigation measures, fish can continue their migration upstream and go on to repopulate the river. Work has already been undertaken within this catchment to remove obstacles and open up potential spawning grounds. For further details of this work click here http://wrt.org.uk/wordpress/?p=609
To date, SCRIP has exceeded all set targets for this stage of the project. 42km of river has been assessed via walkover surveys, 12.8km of fencing has been put up and a brand new fish pass is in the process of being installed. All together, this project is set to be successful in fulfilling its original aims.