‘Keeping Ure Rivers Cool’ was a Dales to Vale Rivers Network partnership project funded by the Environment Agency bringing together the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, The Woodland Trust, Wild Trout Trust and the University of Leeds, to plant riparian trees at priority sites along the Ure catchment in 2022.
The Ure is suffering from extreme temperature ranges owing to a lack of shade from bankside trees. This causes problems for aquatic life, particularly during the summer months and during drought conditions. Once established, the trees will cast dappled shade and help cool the river, as well as stabilising the banks. Flood fencing was used so that when it floods the trees won’t get taken away. We didn’t use plastic tree guards as we didn’t want them to get into the beck, so instead, we trialed using wool and planting in a much higher density – a new tree every metre rather than every two metres – to try to overcome the rabbit problem.
We planted native trees that can stand in the wet: goat willow, great willow, alder, downy birch and alder.
The planting will create better conditions for fish and stabilise riverbanks, and help species such as river lamprey, brown trout, white-clawed crayfish, otter and kingfisher. We involved as many volunteers as we could, the more people we can involve in caring for riversides, the better.
Planting areas of riparian woodland at 33 sites on the River Ure catchment to:
- Decrease river temperatures and increase habitat diversity, increasing the resilience of the rivers to the impacts of climate change and pollution.
- Increase catchment roughness, protecting watercourses from agricultural runoff and increasing habitat connectivity.
- Connect local people to nature and conservation by recruiting citizen science and conservation volunteers, increasing connecting with nature, keeping active, improving well-being, learning new skills including raising awareness of and biosecurity for preventing the spread of invasive non-native species (INNS).
- Improve river habitats to benefit the wide range of aquatic and riparian species, including Salmon, Brown Trout, White-clawed Crayfish, River lamprey and Otter.
- Increase the extent and connectivity of native woodland habitats within the catchment.
- Improving drinking water quality by reducing sediment transfer and reducing nutrient levels.
- Increase the benefits of woodland planting by slowing run-off, increasing infiltration, connecting to groundwater, shading watercourse and increasing habitat and species diversity on land and within the river systems.