Appeal for £ 10,000 for conservation work in Grantchester Meadows to combat erosion

The Cam Valley Forum is appealing for funds to support essential conservation work on Grantchester Meadows.

The project has been offered total funding of almost £ 10,000, as long as the community can match that, and provided work can be completed by the end of March 2022.

A ladder in the water to aid swimmers in Grantchester Meadows. Photo: Keith Heppell

The project will address some of the severe erosion of the banks of the River Cam at Grantchester Meadows. The use of the banks by cattle, humans and dogs has resulted in bank erosion, removal of marginal vegetation and silt entry into the river, which can impact water quality. . Cattle trampling areas adjacent to trail barriers also created safety concerns, especially noticeable in winter.

The project will create two new ‘cattle drinks’ – gently sloping river access points with a hard stone base – so that livestock can access the river safely while reducing erosion and siltation. The earth from the works will be used to repair the embankments along the trail, which will then be protected by a short section of fence.

Marginal vegetation is expected to thrive in these areas, providing refuge for aquatic voles, waterfowl and invertebrates. The aim is to test ways to reconstruct and protect the riverbanks using natural materials, and to learn lessons that can be applied to other areas of Grantchester Meadows.

Stephen Tomkins, Forum Chair, said: “Grantchester Meadows, a quiet, open green space near the Cam, is famous for its grazing cattle, river life and rural beauty. It is highly regarded by the people of Cambridge as a place to enjoy nature, relax, picnic and swim.

“But these wonderful meadows are suffering from erosion of the river banks and collapsed tracks due to heavy footfall, cattle entering the river to drink or cool off, and some people and dogs entering and leaving. the water.

“There are also concerns about waste and anti-social behavior.

“These pressures threaten the continuation of the traditional cattle grazing that is such an attractive part of this rural scene. We have this access free of charge but there is a cost to owners and tenants in managing the impacts. The loss of soil and the mixing of sediment in the river bed also make the river less suitable for supporting fish and other wildlife.

“These concerns have been recognized and reflected in proposals from the Wildlife Trust and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group – supported by owners and farmers – to undertake essential remedial work. We are delighted to support this pilot project.

“The proposals include urgent actions to repair two short lengths of shoreline, a footpath and some limited plantings. Only silt and soft surfacing from local rivers will be used to rebuild the banks. Only a few meters of permanent fence will be needed to protect the plantation. This work will certainly help the people, wildlife and livestock who use or depend on the grasslands.

“We call on all Cambridge residents to help us raise the £ 20,000 needed for this pilot project and to build a fund for future improvements. The Cam Valley Forum contributes to this. Others, including the Environment Agency and the county council, have pledged initial support. Individuals and businesses can donate through the Wildlife Trust. If everyone who loves the prairies makes a donation, we can easily do it.

Read more

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