Fostering close working relationships with landowners and farmers is a key aspect of the Trust’s work. The Tyne catchment covers some 1,100 square miles and has over 1,800 registered agricultural holdings, every one of which is important. Commercial coniferous forestry is a major land use in the Tyne Catchment, the majority of the forestry in the catchment is found in Kielder Forest but there are sizeable forests at Chopwell and Slaley and numerous small blocks.
A major land use in the Tyne Catchment is commercial coniferous forestry. The majority of the forestry in the catchment is found in Kielder Forest but with sizeable forests in Chopwell and Slaley and numerous small blocks. Like all intensive land uses, forestry can have a large impact on the river system through input of fine sediments, changes in pH and flow, and creating heavy shade on watercourses. These problems were particularly pronounced in the first rotation of forest planting which were heavily drained and planted in large blocks down to the edge of watercourses.
In 1988 the first edition of the UK Forest Standards – Forest and Water Guidelines was published. It is now in its fifth edition. The Guidelines set out a series of legal and good practice requirements that apply to both public and privately owned forests. The guidelines and new technology and ideas have been responsible for a marked improvement in the water quality in rivers. This has been achieved by incorporating large buffer strips between commercial forest and watercourses, the planting of broadleaves along watercourses and decreasing the amount of drainage.
We are working with the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency to further improve the ecological quality of the watercourses than run through Kielder Forest. The project has involved detailed study of catchments that are not reaching good ecological status under the EU’s Water Framework Directive. Walkover surveys as well as chemical and biological monitoring have brought up a number of point issues that the Forestry Commission is currently addressing. Tyne Rivers Trust is also looking at improving the way water is managed in forestry blocks and drainage networks by working directly with the Forestry Commission’s foresters and engineers.
This pond was dug to capture the silt from a forestry site.
Tyne Rivers Trust was awarded a facilitation fund by Natural England in April 2017, to work with farmers and land owners in the Ouseburn catchment and beyond. So far 38 farmers have joined the group which covers an area of over 8,000 hectares but there are still opportunities for others to get involved and join in with project.
The facilitation fund is part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme and helps land managers to improve their local environment at a landscape-scale. The Tyne Rivers Trust group will focus on reducing the risk of flooding, reducing sediment movement into the water course and improving water quality. These issues will be tackled where possible using natural flood management techniques such as improved soil structure and management, management of grasslands and strategic woodlands schemes over the whole river corridor rather than individuals working in isolation.
The Tyne Rivers Trust group is one of the biggest in the north east and is unusual in its focus on what is predominantly an urban catchment. Feedback received by the Trust from national and local assessors stated that our application was extremely strong.
Urban catchments and rivers are often ignored in favor of more picturesque areas or more highly valued nature, so it is brilliant for the Trust to have a project on the edge of Newcastle, within sight of St James’s Park. Urban rivers can have a huge bearing on localised flooding which, frequently affects significant populations. The facilitation fund is an extremely exciting opportunity for the Trust to work with the local farming community, government agencies and the wider community to find workable solutions for the catchment which will revolve around natural flood management.