The Severn Rivers Trust in conjunction with the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) and Coed Cymru have been delivering a special Nature Fund scheme in the upper Cain river basin. The project’s aim is for the planting of trees, restoration of hedgerows, the exclusion of livestock from water channels in order to slow down water flows to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Natural Flood Management measures have been proven very successful, to slow high flows in small catchments before they overwhelm villages and towns.
The Severn Rivers Trust identified the Nant Alan, a tributary of the Afon Cain, after mapping possible sites under the Catchment Based Approach and agri-environmental specialist Dewi Morris set about working with farmers on the scheme. The project worked with 10 farms along the course of the river.
The farmers, including Arwel Davies of Braich y Waun recognised the benefits of trees on the farm and has restored hedgerows and planted trees to reduce overland flow. He says, “We ought to appreciate all the sheer hard labour that went into creating these banks and hedges. As they give our stock so much shelter. In a way they knew more about farming then, than we do today.”
The capital grant funding was delivered by the project through the Coed Cymru scheme under the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund with plans created for four further years of shelter belt and hedgerow restoration. In addition riparian fencing and revetment work in the river will provide habitat in this important salmon spawning river.
Mike Morris, the Severn Rivers Trust’s Deputy Director says, “Natural Management to water quality and flooding can benefit both the farm business and neighbouring communities. This approach is a win:win for all concerned and by working with ten continuous farmers we are delighted with the long term benefits this will bring to the river”.
Clare Morgan, the Woodland Trust’s Woodland Creation Manager for North Wales says: “Our experience demonstrates how, if thoughtfully integrated into sheep systems, trees can boost production and improve animal health and welfare whilst also providing wider benefits to the environment. Well sited trees can help to prevent health issues like hypothermia, liver fluke and lameness by providing natural shelter and reducing waterlogged conditions, which in turn will support more cost effective sheep systems.”
In addition to reducing a range of health issues and supporting outdoor lambing or early turn out the Trust has identified several other additional benefits that tree belts can provide; shelter enhances grass growth and extends its growing season by improving water efficiency and increasing soil temperature, improved biosecurity, reduction of water runoff and of course the additional creation of wildlife habitats and possible production of firewood and woodchip through long-term management.
The Woodland Trust is offering free support and advice to any other landowners who are keen to take advantage of the many benefits that trees, hedgerows and woodland have to offer. To take up this offer simply phone 0330 333 5303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Coed Cymru officer Gareth Davies can be contacted on: 01686 650777 email@example.com
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