Today was avery interesting day as I was able to give a presentation of Fresh Water Watch and then after the training video and quiz, provided practical training of Rob Martyr. Rob is the newly appointed Conservation Manager to the Little Ouse Headwaters Project. Rob will be recruiting further volunteers and potentially monitoring five+ sites on this ecologically important wetland conservation area. Upstream and adjacent are Alder Carr wetland woods, reed beds and grazing areas which are under great threat in this wonderful area of boarderland between Norfolk and Suffolk.
As the name suggests this area is at the headwaters of the River Little Ouse, so although flowing very slowly and only looking like a stream or small Brook it is in fact a River in it's own right albeit very young at this headwater location.
"The rivers Little Ouse and Waveney both have their origins in the shallow valley which marks the historic boundary between the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. This river corridor formerly held the most extensive area of valley fenland habitat in England, uniting the great wildernesses of Breckland and Broadland.
The river was canalised as early as the 18th Century but more radical changes to the the Little Ouse headwaters followed the Second World War, when over-deepening of the channel and land drainage led to drying-out and conversion to arable agriculture of much of the surrounding land. Small areas of fenland survived but their wildlife interest declined. Many factors contributed to this decline. These included the ending of traditional management practices such as peat digging and reed and sedge cutting, the lowering of water tables as a result of abstraction, a reduction in water quality as a result of agricultural pollution and the inability of many species to survive in such small, isolated patches of land. Today, despite these losses, pockets of land around the headwaters of the Little Ouse and Waveney still retain wildlife that is recognised as being of international importance.
The charity is run entirely by volunteers. Its trustees comprise nominees from the Parish Councils in the project area together with other local residents with particular knowledge and interests relevant to the project." Source http://www.lohp.org.uk/about-us
The above extract is a little out of date as in the last few weeks Rob has been able to be employed on the project thanks to a grant given by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
This is just a small example of the wonderful local voluntary works being carried out to protect rivers and wetlands in Norfolk and Suffolk, which I'm proud to support in a small way.