Kate Bailey – Catchment Partnership Officer
The BIFFA funded project ‘Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers in England’ came to an end in 2018. We were involved because of the River Esk in the north of the National Park. The £300,000 made available helped towards safeguarding Yorkshire’s last remaining population of Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera).
A huge amount of work was achieved in the Upper Esk catchment during the three year period of this project, working closely with the farming community to address diffuse pollution from agriculture. Pollution including sedimentation detrimentally affects water quality and therefore impacts on aquatic species like the mussels.
For most of its three years the project was led by Simon Hirst, our River Esk Project Officer. Simon worked with 38 land managers in the Upper Esk catchment delivering improvement works to help keep pollution including sedimentation out of the river and its tributaries. This has meant:
- Over 8km of riparian fencing installed
This helps stabilise the river banks and creates buffer strips to reduce the amount of runoff from fields getting into watercourses, as well as providing rough habitat along the river corridor for insects which are so important for fish, birds and small mammals.
- 650 trees planted along the river banks of the Esk and its tributaries
The majority of which were planted by our dedicated River Esk Volunteer Group.
Trees help stabilise the banks and so. like with the fencing, reduce sedimentation.
- 34 alternative watering points installed
This is to reduce poaching in fields and along the river banks, and to keep stock and their effluent out of a watercourse.
- Approximately 5.5km of riverbank re-vegetated with woodrush planting
Another 130m of river bank was stabilised using hazel/willow whips. Re-vegetation helps stabilises the river banks
- Over 500m of guttering and downpipe installed on farm buildings
To capture clean water before it gets onto the ground, picks up nutrients and sediment, and then runs into a watercourse.
- 1,237 m3 of concreting in farm yards.
The new surface is profiled to collect dirty water before it can enter a nearby watercourse.
Big Thank You to Biffa for supporting the Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers in England project.
Big Thank You to all the local land managers who worked alongside Simon on the Esk, contributing a lot of their own time and capital to complete these improvement works.
Big Thank You to our dedicated Mussel Volunteers who have played such a vital role in this delivery project, and all the other volunteers that helped out like the Explorer Club and the 1st Marston Moor Scout Group.
And one more Big Thank You to Simon Hirst. Last year the North York Moors National Park had to say goodbye to Simon because he moved on to a new role working on the River Holme in Huddersfield. His enthusiasm and knowledge will be greatly missed by us and the Esk’s Freshwater pearl mussels.