The East Looe project is a Living Landscapes approach that aims to improve the water quality of the East Looe River catchment and enhance wildlife habitats through working with local landowners.
Project background & aims
The East Looe catchment in south-east Cornwall is important for wildlife, linking habitats on the south coast with the Glynn Valley and Bodmin Moor. The area is intensively farmed, but valuable woodland and flower-rich grasslands remain situated along water courses and steep valley side.
The East Looe River has a current Water Framework Directive (WFD) status of 'Moderate'. Pollution comes from various sources including; industry, rural drainage, sewage treatment and agriculture. Agricultural pollution from slurry and soil sediments entering the river is one of these issues. The project aims to work with farmers and landowners to reduce pollution of the river and its tributaries and help move the water body into 'Good Ecological Status'.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust has drawn on our experience from other catchment projects to offer sound impartial advice to farmers about preventing pollution from farm run-off. Small infrastructure projects have also been implemented, using grant money to act as a catalyst, and include the following works:
•Streamside fencing, to reduce bank erosion and livestock defecation in streams.
•In field gulley repair, to reduce soil and fertiliser loss to streams.
•Rainwater collection, to divert clean water from slurry stores
•Pond restoration with sediment traps, to create wildlife habitats and limit soil loss to streams
Through working with farmers in a non-regulatory way we have been given further access to their land to carry out wildlife surveys. We envisage a number of other benefits arising from the project as a result of our work:
•Wildlife enhancement through linking and extending the existing habitats across the catchment.
•Economic benefits to farm businesses through reducing running costs.
•Improvements to bathing beach quality with the associated social and economic benefits to the local community.
Wildlife surveys at a number of farms have revealed the unexpected presence of flower-rich meadows alive with an amazing diveristy of invertebrates, including the the rare long-horned mining bee (Eucera longicornis). The woodlands are also home to several species of bats, while on the river otters and brown trout have been recorded. Through suitable land management we hope to enhance these existing habitats and the species they support.
The East Looe Catchment project builds on our previous work in the area. We already manage the West Muchlarnick Farm Nature Reserve, in the West Looe Valley, and St Georges Island Nature Reserve, off the coast at Looe. We have also been involved with the Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) in Looe. We are working towards developing a strong community involvement in the currrent project through a volunteer works party that will be able to provide the necessary labour for practical conservation projects.
If you would like more information on how to get involved with the East Looe Catchment Project telephone Cheryl Marriot on 01872 273 939 ext 210