Tree scheme to tackle pollution

Richard Cooper.
Richard Cooper.
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A new push is underway to help the Morecambe Bay area tap the benefits of tree planting to improve water quality.

The Forestry Commission has welcomed the appointment of Richard Cooper as the new woodland officer under the ambitious Source to Sea project.

The multi-agency initiative, which will oversee a range of projects aimed at tackling the causes of water pollution in rivers and tributaries through more sustainable land management, has been backed by £1.1 million from the Environment Agency under the Government’s Catchment Restoration Fund.

Tree planting is a key element in the initiative and project chiefs have set a target of creating over five kilometres of river side planting.

Research has shown that tree roots help knit together soil, stop sediment and pollution flowing into water and also decrease the severity of flooding by slowing the rate of rainwater run-off during storms.

Trees also help keep rivers cool by providing shade, which could prove critical for the survival of trout, salmon and rare pearl mussels in some rivers. Restoration of wet woodland is also a scheme priority – a vitally important habitat which has been on the decline locally for decades.

Richard Cooper said: “I am pleased to be back in the region and look forward to working with landowners and farmers in getting a better environment for people and wildlife. In targeted areas we hope to financially support restoring the rivers and associated habitats.”

Richard has also taken on overall co-ordination of the Source to Sea project, which is a partnership programme between the RSPB, Lune Rivers Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Woodlands, Morecambe Bay Partnership, and the Arnside and Silverdale AONB Partnership, with support from the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

The focus will be on rivers such as the Lune, Wenning, Roeburn, Kent, Mint, Rawthey, Winster, Keer, Wyre, Cocker, Pilling Water and Duddon.