At the Don Network one of the things we are keen to do is encourage local communities to get involved in protecting and improving their own river environment. To help do this we offer a number of small grants to community groups. Although the amounts are relatively small they can make a real difference. The grants are decided by the Trustees and members of the Don network and they look for projects which meet the priorities of the Don Network and in particular those that involve volunteers or the public. The more people who get connected with the rivers the more people who will realise what fantastic places they are!
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and a band of volunteers used their grant to plant a hedgerow next to the river at Centenary Riverside Wetland Nature Reserve. Once it grows up, the hedge will provide habitat for insects and invertebrates and, in turn, the birds and mammals which feed on them. All contributing to make Centenary Riverside a great place to visit.
Friends of Blue Loop organised three clean up days for more than 60 volunteers last spring.
They targeted the area between Hillfoot Bridge and Livesey Street in Sheffield and cleared footpaths, riverbanks and waterways (including removing four fridges) as well as tackling invasive species, most notably Himalyan Balsam. Some of the volunteers were environmental conservation students from Hillsborough College. As well as helping remove the fridges from the river they also took the opportunity to learn how to report environmental incidents and about invasive species and freshwater invertebrates.
Phoenix and Parkgate Angling Club at Ravenfield Park near Rotherham used their grant to create floating vegetation islands in the pond margins. Once established these will provide habitat for insects, shelter for fry and remove nutrients from the water.
This year’s grants include a project to clear and restore the riverside at Sprotbrough falls and fish stocking at Carlton Marsh. This will benefit the Cudworth Dyke as surplus fish will spill out into the stream during periods of high flow helping to build populations in this rapidly recovering watercourse.
Karen Housham, CaBA Project Officer