Cumbria’s young farmers turned out in force on Saturday 7 December to help improve the local environment and mitigate climate change by planting 420 trees along the River Irt.
The Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs teamed up with West Cumbria Rivers Trust and the National Trust to organise the tree-planting day at a site between Santon Bridge and Nether Wasdale. Planting trees along river banks has multiple environmental benefits, including reduced soil erosion as tree roots stabilise the bank, improved water quality due to less soil and farm run-off entering the watercourse, and improved river habitats as shade from the trees regulates the water temperature and provide habitat for fish to shelter in.
For the young farmers, the day was part of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ commitment to planting a tree for every one of their members. The Cumbria Federation asked West Cumbria Rivers Trust to recommend a site, with the one chosen forming part of a broader improvement project the Trust is currently working on along the Irt.
Chris West, Project Officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to see the next generation of farmers helping us plant trees along the river, which will bring environmental benefits for them and generations beyond. We firmly believe there is space within our landscape to combine a healthy environment with prosperous farming.”
Neil Curr, Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs County Chairman, said: “I think it’s a brilliant project to give something back to the environment. With people constantly cutting down trees for various uses, we need to plant new ones to replace them. It should also be good for the wildlife and hopefully help towards protecting against flooding in the local areas.”
Steve Jolley, National Trust Area Ranger for Wasdale, said: “This project will also have the benefit of slowing down the rate of erosion on one of our farmer’s productive fields over the long term, along with enhancing valuable riverside habitat. Definitely a win-win situation for everyone.”
Fencing to keep livestock away from the riverbank was paid for by the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Programme and erected by the National Trust, whose land the trees were planted on. The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs is working with the Woodland Trust, who donated the trees.
West Cumbria Rivers Trust needs volunteers for tree-planting days throughout the winter. Events are already planned for the Keswick area on 19 December, Seascale on 8 January, and Flimby on 9 January and 6 February, and more events will be scheduled. Information is available from westcumbriariverstrust.org/events