Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Woody Debris

This is is not my favourite blues guitarist but the scientific term for fallen branches and trees in a river.

Large Woody Debris (or LWD, generally defined as timber greater than 0.1m in diameter and 1.0m in length) is a vital natural component of all rivers. However, due to human intervention over the millennia, it is now largely absent from many river systems. Traditional river management has included a presumption for the removal of LWD, on the grounds that it restricts angling access, collects debris around it andcould pose a risk of flooding. Many fishery interests have also had concerns that LWD can adversely restrict the upstream migration of pre-spawning salmonids.

However, more recently, research has shown that LWD is fundamental to many river processes, which are of direct and indirect importance to trout, with its influence particularly strong in headwaters. LWD causes localised changes in water velocity, with consequent downstream scouring of gravel substrate, improving its quality for spawning salmonids and some fast water loving coarse fish species. The lower water velocity occasioned upstream and within LWD bundles results in the detention of fine sediment in marginal zones where it can become colonised by emergent vegetation. The increased variability of water velocity also results in significant changes to the river’s water depth and width. Similarly, leaf litter tends to accumulate in and around LWD, providing an important food reserve for 'shredding' macroinvertebrates. LWD also provides shelter for a range of invertebrate and fish species, and reduces water temperature by shading.

Accumulations of LWD can cause the formation of so-called 'woody debris dams'. These can become remarkably stable, with some examples lasting for years. These can have particular value in riverine systems, becoming important structural features in their own right. However, careful monitoring of extensive woody debris dams is important.Although concerns regarding their impact on migrating fish are generally not well founded, in extreme circumstances, they can totally occlude channels, preventing access to spawning areas for brown trout and salmon.
In these unusual circumstances, it is usually possible to carefully remove a small section
of the dam, re-establishing a passage for fish.

So all in all wood is good for trout!

As part of ERTs Petteril Project we have formed a technical partnership with the conservation charity, the Wild Trout Trust to select and introduce LWD at a number of sites along the river. As I speak Tim Jacklin and Paul Gaskell (WTT) and Alison Reed (ERT) are busy with their chainsaws, creating much needed habitat on this once iconic trout stream. The support and guidance from WTT has been invaluable and anyone considering restoring a trout stream should contact them. Their advice and assistance is free and will ensure your project gets off the best possible start. see for more details.
Photo: Copyright Natural England

Monday, 27 September 2010

An Invitation

Eden Rivers Trust
invites you to our Winter 2010
Fisheries Seminar
(replacing the ERT Fisheries Advisory Committee)
Wednesday 20th October 2010
6:30 to 10:00pm
Cliburn Village Hall, Penrith


6:30 to 7:00 Arrival and refreshments
7:00 to 7:20 Eden Rivers Trust—Roundup of 2010 work
7:25 to 8:20 Guest Speaker:
Dr Peter Hutchinson. NASCO
(North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation)
SALSEA – unravelling the mysteries of the salmon’s life at sea’
An introduction to the exciting and innovative work being undertaken by NASCO and partners to improve understanding of and survival during the salmon’s life at sea.
8:20 to 8:50 Break, refreshments and a chance to buy raffle tickets
8:50 to 9:10 Environment Agency (Penrith Fisheries Team) - An Eden Update
9:15 to 9:25 Guest Speaker:
Kenny Galt. The Tweed Foundation TBC
The Trout and Grayling Initiative and Riverfly Monitoring
9:30 to 9:40 Eden Rivers Trust—Look ahead and Raffle Draw

There will be a raffle with suitably fishy prizes and refreshments (soft drinks and bottled beers) provided by the Tufton Arms Hotel in Appleby, with all proceeds going to ERT.
Directions: As you come into Cliburn village from Penrith, the hall is on the right hand side. If you reach the Golden Pheasant you’ve gone too far!

Click Here for Google map

All welcome, but places are limited to 100 so please let us know if you’re coming along: call 01768 866 788 or email
Car parking is limited so do please car-share where possible!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scores on the Doors...

On behalf of the Chairman and the board of trustees of ERT I am posting this blog to thank everyone who has supported the 2010 Auction....our first!

The combined total of both main and silent auctions was a staggering £52,000!

This would not have been possible if it were not for the very kind and unfaltering support of a large number of sponsors, volunteers, donors and bidders. In these austere times I cannot overstate importance of this income and the positive impact it will have on both our conservation and educational activities.

As we move forward into uncertain economic times, life for small charities like ERT will become ever more challenging. However, we have clarity and purpose, sound governance, robust financial management systems and a great team of staff and volunteers. Most importantly we have fantastic record of delivering excellent conservation projects all of which are underpinned by the use of sound and practical science. These attributes, coupled with your support place ERT in a strong position to both meet these challenges head-on and to seize upon the as yet unknown opportunities that will undoubtedly manifest themselves as new and exciting vistas open up before us.

Once again thank you to everyone concerned for your support. It is hugely appreciated and never taken for granted.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Clock is Ticking....

Just a quick reminder that the deadline for postal and fax bids for ERT's fundraising auction is Saturday, mid-day.

We have some fantastic lots and the bids are now starting to arrive. This is a great chance to spoil yourself and support ERT at the same time.

Go on....have a bid!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Blisters...but they were worth it!

I am very pleased to report that I managed to complete the 80 mile 'Source to Sea' walk along the Eden. My short legs aren't really designed for walking and as such I found the first two days pretty hard going. Getting out of bed each morning was a challenge that somewhat reminded me of the lengthy process of firing-up the engines of an old WW2 Dakota, I onced witnessed. Lots of heaving, pulling, straining, coughing, swearing, moaning and stretching before finally spluttering into something resembling life......

The walk and the excellent ERT staff, guests, landowners and volunteers we met along the way were stimulating and inspiring. I feel very privileged to have walked 'my river' in it's entirety. I would thoroughly recommend it, however my advice would be to perhaps undertake it at a more sedate pace!

Highlights for me were too numerous to list but the first mornings walk down from Hell Gill to Kirby Stephen was very special indeed. During the four days we showed Rory Stewart many aspects of our work from electric fishing, crayfish surveying, habitat restoration, farm conservation advice, invasive species management through to our research and education based activities. To have four days with your local MP is an opportunity not to be squandered and in Rory's words it was "a wonderful four days. I learnt an enormous amount from the ERT team and I will remember it forever"

To date we have raised about £900, which is a little disappointing considering the pain I had to endure. But the success of the endeavour should not be measured in fiscal terms alone. The wide-ranging PR the walk received has ensured that awareness of the ERT brand continues to grow, and in these tough economic times...that is priceless!

If you would consider a donation - its not too late. This can be dome via our Just Giving website :

Just click and donate. Easy....unlike the walk!

Now what should be my challenge next year......?