FARMERS and landowners have been given the chance to take control of water management on their land after a project by the largest nature conservation charity in Staffordshire was awarded a total of £84,000.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has been using Natural Flood Management (NFM) techniques for several years and have built up an excellent reputation for working with private landowners. This year the Trust’s project, Nature’s Flood Defence, has been allocated £84,000 from the Environment Agency; a mix of local levy money and Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF). This is the charity’s largest ever one-year funding settlement and, as the heavy winter floods demonstrated, is much needed. The money will be used to deliver some crucial work in some of the most badly hit catchments in Staffordshire, and to develop a new Small Grants Scheme which will be trialled in the Marchington Brook catchment. The scheme will allow farmers to apply for funds to deliver NFM techniques on their land, with SWT providing advice, information and support. This is a new approach that will see landowners taking the reins in helping alleviate flooding and water pollution in the county, as well as providing habitat and increasing biodiversity in their area. NFM involves using natural materials and processes to help alleviate flooding and erosion; installation of fallen trees and branches into streams and ditches disrupts the flow and stores water on a little and often basis, planting trees stabilises banks and they absorb rainwater before it reaches the stream, whilst fencing off river banks allows them to reinvigorate and stabilise. The goal is to slow the flow and store more water in the higher reaches of the catchment, as well as enable our land to hold on to that water longer. Conservation Officer for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Kate Jones, is excited about the project and said: “It will put farmers and landowners behind the steering wheel of water management on their farms and see them making a huge contribution to their communities.”