Network for Nature

Enhancing the riparian corridor across the Colne and Calder Catchments –

One river bank at a time!

Network for Nature

The Network for Nature project that works in conjunction with our Japanese Knotweed Treatment Programme that we have run across the Colne and Calder catchment for the last eight years. The project works with landowners currently engaged with the treatment of Japanese Knotweed on the Colne and Calder Catchments. This project has been made possible due to key support from partners at Yorkshire Water and Kirklees Council.

Objective: To assist in the natural regeneration and restoration of river banks following treatment of Japanese Knotweed. By using plants and seed native to the area, Network for Nature aims to increase ecological reliance for a changing climate, increase lost biodiversity, reduce seasonal erosion and reduce the risk of secondary infestation of other invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam.

History of the Project

The Calder and Colne Catchments

Ever since the early 18th century both the Colne and Calder catchments have been heavily influenced by human industry.
Cloth and textile mills were built alongside the two river systems, harnessing the flow of the water by manipulating and changing the river throughout the catchment. Either by canalising or diverting water systems, the river was changed to better suit technological progression but often at the same time having a significantly negative impact on wildlife and nature.

At around the same time that the river systems were being modified the Victorian era also saw the (un)welcomed arrival of a now problem species, Japanese Knotweed. The plant was brought over as an ornamental plant and ironically to help stabilise railway embankments but soon escaped to spread across our countryside. As Japanese Knotweed spread, large sections of riverbanks and open areas would soon became completely saturated with the Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) and our local ecosystems and biodiversity suffered significantly.

Over 200 years have passed since then and we are still trying to managed and reduce the impact of these decisions. Mills have all but become redundant for their original purpose and Invasive Non-Native species have formed strongholds across many catchments, damaging ecosystems and biodiversity to this day.

What can we do?

Since 2013 and by working with local landowners, councils, partners and private companies we have sought to manage certain INNS such as Japanese Knotweed through a headwaters down approach. We work methodically by surveying and treating from the highest point of infection and then systematically work our way down the catchment engaging with landowners to begin or continue treatment.

It is a long process and requires multiple years of treatment to manage Japanese knotweed. As the project progressed we began to see several issues, such as; areas that had previously been infected were also lacking in biodiversity, they were prone to increase erosion during the winter months and were often becoming colonised by other INNS in the area such as Himalayan Balsam.

Network for Nature

With core funding support from Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust was able to secure funding from Highways England for a complementary project called Network for Nature. Network for Nature focuses on restoring river banks post-treatment across the Calder and Colne catchments. Looking at addressing biodiversity loss, water quality improvement and erosion reduction. We use natural techniques that work with our environment to enhance and restore our valuable and vulnerable ecosystem

Elliot Baxendale

Project Officer