Cam between Littlebury and Little Chesterford, 19 Oct 2019 (c) Mike Foley
We were horified to discover that the Environment Agency is proposing, once again, to blanket spray herbicide along large stretches of our precious rivers and streams. They say this is “to maintain sinuosity within the channel to help reduce flood risk”
You can see the full list of sites here:EA herbicide proposals 2020
They sent this out for consultation to selected key conservation organisations a few weeks ago, with a deadline for responses of 5 June. However, as many staff are on fulough, it has only just come to our attention.
We are preparing a response.
Environment Agency map showing woodland potential. Dark blue means “very high potential”
The Environment Agency has published a very interesting (but rather clunky) online map of the potential for tree planting.
This shows that they rate much of the land in the Cam Valley as “very high potential” for woodland planting.
Planting lots more trees could be a very attractive way of improving water quality. A Forestry commission expert pointed out to us that even relatively small bands of trees (5-8m wide) can be very important in protecting rivers from contamination by the excess phosphates, nitrates and sprays that would otherwise wash into the river from intensively farmed agricultural land.
In areas with public access he recommends planting willows (not Crack Willow!) Black poplar, Alder, Downey Birch, and lower shrubs, for example Gelder Rose.
The Environment Agency map is available online here . It covers the whole country, and lets you zoom in to see the potential in each tiny little river tributary, which is great. Unfortunately its a bit clunky to use and only works if you’re using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser.
The image of the map above shows of the overview for the Cam Catchment. I have added the names of the key towns to make it easier to understand.
The Environment Agency’s user guide for the map is here