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.
We work with farmers and land owners to slow the flow of water into the river system and improve water quality. This is done through our Ouseburn and South Tyne facilitation funds that we run on behalf of Natural England.
The funding which comes from Natural England as part of its Countryside Stewardship Fund allows us to support farmers on a landscape scale in measures that will improve biodiversity and help reduce downstream flood risk, soil loss and sediment movement into rivers to improve water quality.
Farmers that live in the Ouseburn or South Tyne catchment that sign up to Tyne Rivers Trust facilitation fund are eligible for extra points when applying for a Countryside Stewardship scheme to access money to improve wildlife and habitat on their land.
The funds have been a great success and have more than 85 farmer members – we are already seeing the benefits with farmers looking to install more environmentally friendly ways to deal with surface water from clean and dirty water separation tanks to rainwater harvesting and buffer strips preventing fertilizer getting into rivers.
The Ouseburn fund
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 South Tyne fund
This fund focuses on the mainly hill farming catchment stretching from Lambley through to Alston and Garrigill.