The Limestone Becks are a unique network of springs in Lincolnshire, and home to some of the UK’s most protected species, such as the water vole. Historic changes, including dredging and straightening, along with abstraction and pollution, has significantly degraded the becks’ habitat.
As part of the Limestone Becks, Back to Life project led by the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust, Branston Beck has been subject to extensive habitat restoration works, which were amended recently, so as not to disturb a thriving population of protected water voles. The creation of two new channels and enhancement of the surrounding wetland was funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (Heritage Lottery Fund) and completed by Ebsford Environmental. These works provide improved habitat for water voles, spawning fish, and invertebrates and support natural flood management, as the river margins are now able to absorb more water in times of high rainfall.
The Clerk, Angie Driver from Branston & Mere Parish Council explained why they supported the project, “A big step in restoring the Branston Beck is ensuring that local people understand and treasure it’s importance. This restoration also enhances the popular Spires and Steeples footpath, and permanent signage will now be put up there to inform the local community about the wildlife and the becks heritage at Branston”
LRT Project Officer Paige Donnelly agreed and highlighted, “That there is a need to continually engage the local community. The fact that fifteen volunteers turned up, on a cold day, to help us plant the river margins was really heartening. And our engagement activities will continue. At the end of March, Lincolnshire Rivers Trust will be piloting a new scheme for children aged 4 – 11, called ‘Water Vole Warriors’. This is a chance for local children to learn all about rivers, get involved with their restoration and learn how important they are.”
Commenting on the impacts of the Branston Beck project success Senior Environment Officer at the Environment Agency David Hutchinson said, “The Environment Agency are a proud partner of the Limestone Becks projects that are restoring habitat for wildlife in Lincolnshire. The restoration of the Becks has been a focus for the Rivers Trust, the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency for the last 8 years so it is great to see how much progress is being made.”