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River Wharfe with shingle beds River Wharfe with shingle beds - Credit: Whitfield Benson

Upper Wharfe Restoration Project

Why run the Upper Wharfe SSSI Restoration Project

The River Wharfe is a nationally important river and is designated as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) for its contrasting upland and lowland character which is important for its wildlife and habitat. The SSSI covers the river channel and small areas of adjacent floodplain between Buckden and the Wharfe’s confluence with the River Skirfare. The SSSI is currently in a poor condition due to historic management methods which have prevented the river from functioning naturally.

What are the UWSRP’s aims?

This project aims to do the following:

  • To return the river to near natural condition and ecological health by restoring the rivers natural form and function over the next 50 years.
  • To work with local stakeholders to develop a plan that can help long term recovery of the SSSI.
  • To develop a scientific understanding of the river and the options that can restore it to favourable condition.

UWSRP’s achievements?

The project has carried out numerous on the ground conservation measures throughout the catchment, including fencing, willow spilling, tree planting and de-culverting. These works will help to increase the connectivity of the river with its floodplain as well as providing ecological benefits such as habitat creation. Furthermore, there has been extensive contact work done with the local farming community to help encourage farmers to consider the effect they can have on the river. We have also conducted a large soil compaction survey surrounding the SSSI area.

Who is involved in the UWSRP?

The UWSRP project is led by the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust but is funded by the Environment Agency and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The National Trust and Natural England also sit of the steering group for this project, helping to keep the project in line. Volunteers also are strongly involved in this project, helping to deliver many of the on the ground projects.

Further information can be found on the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust website.