Doncaster Pupils Become Budding ‘River Champions’

A grant from the Brelms Trust enabled us to engage 107 young people living in disadvantaged areas in Doncaster with our exciting schools project – ‘River Champions’. This allowed us to go into schools and teach pupils about their local rivers and freshwater life through a program of environmentally orientated lessons. Pupils learned about the ecology of the river told through the story of the mayfly enabling them to build a model of the river in the classroom and seeing mayfly nymphs metamorphosise before their eyes. We accessed training in how to deliver this aspect of the project through Paul Gaskell at the Wild Trout Trust as we would be engaging multiple schools. Once DCRT staff were trained-up, this information was passed on to classroom teachers, allowing future classes to participate in this project.

Schools that took part were also invited out to a field visit to the river; this is something disadvantaged schools have limited funds for, particularly for coaches. During their visit to the river classes had the opportunity to do some river dipping, seeing what invertebrates live in the river. During the field trip we delivered ‘Yellowfish’ – an EA project that aims to teach pupils about how pollution affects the river ecology and how they can help stop pollutants entering the river system. This proved to be an engaging method of making the link between human activity and environmental impacts.

This project hopes to inspire the next generation of environmentally-conscious young people by broadening their horizons and stimulating new interests, in turn having an impact in the physical environment of their local areas. The grant contributed towards staff costs, pupil’s transport and tank equipment. We would have not been able to deliver this project without the grant funds from the Brelms Trust.

Quotes from class teachers included:

“Children really enjoyed the Mayfly session and the creation of the habitat. Children were involved in every aspect of this and built up substantial knowledge of this area through videos, discussion and visuals. Fantastic session.”

Y5 Teacher at Windhill Primary School

 

“Matt and his assistant were fantastic, very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They had a nice manner with the children who responded well to them and learnt a great deal.”

Y6 teacher at New Pastures Primary School

If you know of a primary school that would be interested in taking part in this project in Spring/Summer 2019 please get in touch with us at info@dcrt.org.uk or call us on 01302 796173.

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Discoveries from the 2018 Wardsend Cemetery Bioblitz

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Wildlife organisations, experts and scientists came together on Saturday 11th of August to survey, identify and record the wildlife at Wardsend Cemetery, with the aim of counting as many species as they could within one day.  This year’s grand total was he grand total at the end of the day was an incredible 190 biological records, counting 131 different species of plant and animal (click here for the Bioblitz species list). Check out last year’s blog to compare our finds!

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Photo credits: Kinder Kalsi

What is a biological record? A biological record documents the sighting of a plant or animal, in a place and at a time. A record includes four bits of essential information: the name of the person that  saw the species, what the species was, the location it was found in and the date it was seen – the Who, What, Where and When.

Collecting this information builds up a detailed picture of UK biodiversity. Combined, the biological records allow scientists to observe changing patterns in how different species live and behave. This is especially important for conservation as it helps scientists understand which species are in decline and need our help.

Experts and nature enthusiasts led wildlife walks throughout the day for visitors. Julie Riley and Lizzie McBride identified plants (wildflowers and trees) in the cemetery. Sally Hyslop led bug-hunting along the river and Jim Clarke showed the public how to listen out for and spot birds. Chris Firth demonstrated fly-fishing throughout the day on the River Don.  Any unknown finds were taken to the Investigation Hub for further identification.

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As well as walks, there were stalls throughout the cemetery with activities including ‘Who Dung it’ (identifying which poo belonged to which UK mammal!), bats and butterflies and Otterly Amazing, showing footage of otters and their pups found in Derbyshire. A huge thank you to all the volunteers, experts and organisations that ran these fantastic stalls including the University of Sheffield, the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery and Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

 

This event was part of DCRT’s Heritage Lottery Funded Living Heritage of the River Don project. A big thank you to all the scientists, experts and visitors that joined us on the day to record and celebrate the nature found at Wardsend Cemetery and along the River Don.

Photos by Kinder Kalsi.

MAp for Bioblitz

Vounteers’ week!

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It’s volunteers’ week and the team at Don Catchment Rivers Trust would like to say a huge THANK YOU to our spectacular volunteers that make our trust’s work a real pleasure.

To celebrate this year’s volunteers’ week we are delighted to release this fantastic video (click here!) of our volunteers in action cleaning up the River Don, produced by The Rivers Trust and starring Rowena Mellows, who has been volunteering with the trust for a whopping 15 months. Read about her experience volunteering HERE.

This year so far our volunteers have already filled over 1000 bags of litter from the catchment’s riversides and waterways. 18 tyres, 11 trolleys and many more traffic cones, bikes and chairs have been removed from the river itself. All this hard work, in all weathers, has helped to clean up the river and improved water flow and quality. The team have removed fly tipping, reported incidents of pollution and been helping make the river Don a safer place to be.

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Our volunteers have also been out on the Moss Valley on practical conservation days to restore its biodiversity and heritage value. Volunteers have been making improvements to the river’s flow for fish, restoring wetland areas and planting marginal species of plants in an old mill dam.

Another huge thank you to our education volunteers this year for dedicating their time to helping deliver our River Guardians and Mayfly in the Classroom sessions to schools and scout groups in the catchment. We couldn’t do it without you!
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Treasures of the river (and canal) bank

A guest blog by our volunteer Antony Meadows 

Well, perhaps not treasures exactly, but interesting just the same! I started volunteering with the Don Catchment Rivers Trust in January this year, and have thoroughly enjoyed discovering the rivers and canals of Rotherham and Sheffield; places I have only driven past or not appreciated all the years I worked in Sheffield and Rotherham. I have even enjoyed the litter picking! So much so that I am now also part of Love Where You Live in Rotherham, where I litter pick with a local group and on my own in my village.

I enjoy the sense of achievement when we have cleaned up an area, knowing we have made a difference, even though I am aware it’s a never ending task and we need to keep on top of it regularly. I guess I’m also nosey  and curious to know what I might find! The answer has been up to now, the usual glass and plastic bottles, cans, crisp packets, and plastic bags. I have avoided finding anything too gross or dangerous thankfully. However, recently I found something interesting – at least I think so.

We were out along the banks of the River Rother at Canklow. Amongst the vegetation I saw a whole brick face up, with the manufacturers name – Stairfoot – clearly showing .  I know Stairfoot is a district of Barnsley, but that’s about all! I thought this brick, in some vague way, would be good to use in my garden somewhere. Moving further along the bank I saw 2 more bricks, again in good condition. One was inscribed Maltby Metallic, and the other the intriguing Midland Ir Rother,: the rest of the lettering was obscured under what looked like slag. By now I was hooked, so these were loaded into the wheelbarrow- thanks Matt and Sally! – and brought back to where we were parked. I spotted another brick near my car marked LBC Phorpres, so I came home with four!

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Cleaned up – bricks found along the River Rother, Don and canals

I cleaned them all up when I got home. A quick google on one of the names brought up a  website devoted to old bricks! It told me all I, or anyone else, would need to know about bricks. As I thought, one was a London Brick which are quite common, but the others were local. There  was a brickworks at Stairfoot apparently. I had heard of Maltby Metallic as my childhood Council house home was made from their bricks ; finally, the one I had to clean turned out to be the Midland Iron Company of Rotherham. They were in Masbrough, and made wrought iron products but must have made their own bricks too. There were photographs of all these on the website so I haven’t found anything that unusual it seems, but I’m still pleased to find them!

Since then I have been looking for other examples while out with the DCRT team. I have managed to find at least  one brick on each occasion. I now have bricks marked Kilnhurst, D & S Clarke Rotherham, DMC Ld (Darfield Main Colliery), and I left a Dyson Refractory brick in situ as I already had one other brick to carry which was heavy enough!

I have also found R V (Rothervale Collieries), and Staveley bricks while litter picking locally. My greenhouse is resting on bricks, at least one of which is just visible and is marked Rushworth. This is apparently from West Yorkshire and were commonly found in Bradford buildings! I dug up a Dinnington brick from my garden some years ago, (luckily I kept it) and I recently found fragments of Accrington Nori bricks in my partners sisters garden near Coventry!

Until I looked into this I had no idea that there were so many brickworks in this country, and indeed in South Yorkshire. There was such a variety of types of brick and brick making companies, and to me these bricks are an window into our history. I hope by rescuing a few here and there I am preserving the memory of our recent past.

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Antony and the rest of the team after a clear up of the Hartley Brook in Sheffield

What to do if you see an environmental incident along a waterway?

Hello, Matt here. Just thought I’d do a post about something that happened recently whilst we were out on a volunteer day. We were litter picking along the River Rother in Canklow when we came across an inlet to the main channel that was discoloured (grey), smelled unpleasant and had rags of material caught up in it (see pictures below).

I called the Environment Agency with the location and details of what I had seen and they gave me a reference number for the report and said they’d look into the incident. A week later I received a call back from an EA officer saying that they found it to be a Yorkshire Water combined sewer overflow (CSO). Yorkshire Water were unaware of the issue as the telemetry indicator was not working and said they would fix the problem.

Anyone can report such incidences as this which can in turn help improve water quality and the general health of the river environment. Together we can report deliberate and non-deliberate sources of pollution and be the eyes to the authorities that have the power to implement changes.

If you see any of the following:

  • damage or danger to the natural environment
  • pollution to water or land
  • poaching or illegal fishing
  • dead fish or fish gasping for air
  • main rivers blocked by a vehicle or fallen tree causing risk of flooding
  • flooding from any river, stream, canal, natural spring or the sea
  • incidents at Environment Agency-regulated waste sites
  • illegal removals from watercourses
  • unusual changes in river flow
  • or collapsed or badly damaged river or canal banks

Report it to the EA Incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60

or visit https://www.gov.uk/report-an-environmental-incident

My experience organising the Great British Spring Clean

Our appreciate, Anthony, writes about his experience organising a volunteer litter pick…
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As part of my apprenticeship at DCRT I recently organised the Great British Spring Clean. Although I was a little worried at first, I was shocked at how quick and easy it was to do. It is very rewarding to organise a group of friends, all with the same aims, to help improve the environment for the local community and wildlife.

The first thing I had to do was choose the site. I picked a location that I am familiar with for my first event and a place I believed needed a lot of work. This made it easier as I know the address and where the access points to the site are already. Then I had to pick a date and time, this I had to correlate with the nationwide Great British Spring Clean, but choosing a day where you have no other arrangements is best.

Promotion is probably the hardest part of the process however I used the DCRT Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about it. I also created a poster on word and printed it to put up around the site, all of which took me about 30 minutes. The most important thing to remember in promotion is to remember to tell people the date, time, where the event is and where they can find or ask about more information.

You must ensure you have organised for the litter to be collected from a location after the event by the local authority in the area your event is. The last thing that you have to do is complete a risk assessment for the site. DCRT has great risk assessment that you can print off with the information you need, you then tick the boxes with the risks you see on the site on the day. We would be happy to show anyone how it works and also give copies that you can use for your own events.

All this has shown me that organising a volunteer event is not as difficult as it first seems. If anyone would like to organise their own event you can contact anyone from the team and we would be happy to lend you any resources and provide you with any advice if you need any.
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Volunteering is a very rewarding and worthwhile thing to do in your spare time. It helps bring the community together and is very fulfilling use of your time as it gives you a sense of achievement that you have made a difference to the environment. It is also a good social event for a wide range of people to become friends and help their community. The great British spring clean has events all over the country so even if you don’t attend ours you can go to another event near you. These can be seen on the Keep Britain Tidy website under the Great British Spring Clean section.

If you want to come to the clean up we are meeting at 10am on Friday 2nd March on North Street in Swinton, finishing at 1pm.

Press Release: Hidden Heritage Secret Streams

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION OPEN
FOR ‘HIDDEN HERITAGE SECRET STREAMS’ PROJECT

The Don Catchment Rivers Trust is developing a project that will benefit the natural and historic heritage associated with the rivers of the Upper Rother Catchment in North East Derbyshire.

The project, which is called ‘Hidden Heritage Secret Streams’, is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)* and match funded by the Environment Agency. It is expected that the project will be made up of several elements. One is the restoration of a 700m stretch of the River Rother that was straightened in the 1960s during a time when its water was too polluted to support life. The river will be put back into its original meandering channel, restoring the wide range of habitats required to sustain a wildlife rich river.

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Other elements of the project will involve local communities. The Trust will work with volunteers to dig ponds and plant trees to trap sediment and pollution, clear up rubbish and ‘balsam bash’ (eradicate Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant species). A history project will document forgotten watermills, which were a critical source of power during the early industrial revolution. There will also be a programme of events such as guided walks, training and river dipping.

Speaking about the community consultation, Rachel Walker DCRTs Project Manager said “Whilst we have a good idea of what needs doing to improve the river, we want to make sure the project is relevant for communities and includes the types of activities and opportunities people will want to participate in”.

People wishing to contribute should fill in the consultation questionnaire which can be found at www.dcrt.org.uk/community-consultation or by emailing info@dcrt.org.uk. As a thank you for filling out the questionnaire, people can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win one of two boat trips for up to 5 people. This will take place along the Chesterfield Canal with the Chesterfield Canal Trust, aboard John Varley from the Tapton Lock Visitor Centre, Chesterfield.

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 Notes to editors

About the Project Area

The project area is the upper Rother Catchment, the area of land that drains into the upper section of the River Rother.

It borders southern Sheffield and contains the towns of Chesterfield, Stavely, Dronfield and Eckington.

The main tributaries of the upper River Rother are the Moss Brook, the Barlow Brook, the River Drone, the Holme Brook, the River Hipper, the Spital Brook, and the Redleadmill Brook.

About The Don Catchment Rivers Trust

Don Catchment Rivers Trust is a charity that has been established to help protect and restore the rivers in the River Don catchment area, this includes not just the River Don but also the River Dearne, River Rother and other rivers such as the Sheaf, Went, Ea Beck and many others.

Don Catchment Rivers Trust are currently in year 3 of the National Lottery funded ‘Living Heritage of the River Don’ project, which is aiming to return migrating fish to the River Don by creating fish passes, as well as inspire and mobilise local communities to help look after their rivers.

The Trust has also received initial support for the ‘Hidden Heritage Secret Streams’ project from HLF.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

*HLF Heritage Grants (HG) applications are assessed in two rounds. The Don Catchment Rivers Trust has initially been granted round one development funding of £57,300 by HLF, allowing it to progress with its plans for ‘Hidden Heritage Secret Streams’. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £476,300.

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