Green Lancaster’s Human Beavers at Brackenhurst Farm: An ECOWoods Field Trip

Green Lancaster members at Brackenhurst Farm

On Saturday 4th March, Green Lancaster volunteers joined Guy and Rob from the Ribble Rivers Trust as part of an ECOWoods field trip to help them protect Skirden Beck from flooding and erosion at Brackenhurst Farm.

Upon arrival, we received an induction from Guy for the work that we’d be helping with, including a brief introduction to natural flood management (NFM). This is an initiative that is widely recognised as a great method of flood protection whilst also having additional benefits such as improving water quality and restoring habitats.

The task was to build brash bundles, which are individual branches of willow trees (or other wood) tied together into a package that acts as a cushion for the river bank as well as holding back water from downstream. Included in the brash were even some old Christmas trees that we could recycle into our bundles. Did you know that your Christmas tree could help protect you from flooding?

After filling a trailer full of our brash bundles we transported them down to the beck where the evidence of bank erosion was clear. Steep, bare slopes where the water had removed soil and vegetation during powerful flood events were a worrying sight. Thankfully the work we had come to help with would help prevent all of this.

Before continuing we stopped for lunch where the kind landowner brought us some cakes to eat whilst we sat and got to know each other better. Little did we know we would certainly need the extra energy boost for the job at hand!

Back at the beck, we arranged our brash bundles in parallel lines on the floodplain, perpendicular to the flowing water. These will act as miniature dams that will trap water on the floodplain when the stream bursts its banks. To secure them in place we drove large wooden stakes into the ground beside them; a tiring job for sure! Volunteers enjoyed a friendly competition for who could hammer in the straightest post. Wire was wrapped around the posts and the bundles to make doubly sure that the water would not carry our hard work away.

Before we knew it was time to make our way home but not before Guy gave us a vision of the next stages of this project. The Ribble Rivers Trust are going to be building leaky dams in the stream to help slow the flow of water through this area and divert it onto the floodplain where we placed our brash bundles. He promised to send us pictures of our work in action, although hopefully the bad weather is behind us now since it is nearly spring!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on this ECOWoods field trip, we hope you found it both interesting and rewarding. Special thanks also to Guy and Rob from the Ribble Rivers Trust for being very entertaining and informative guides on the day, we certainly learned a lot. You can learn more about their work by visiting their website.

If you would like to get stuck in with some of our other projects why not come along to our weekly ECOWoods sessions or book your place on the next ECOWild Adventure? Visit the Green Lancaster events feed for more information, sign up for our newsletter or check out our Facebook or Instagram.

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