Skip to main content
Newbiggin Beck, oaks on one side and a sycamore on the other, will soon have more dappled shade

Farmers see case for riverside tree-planting

Monday 29 March, 2021, by News Release

Ten pockets of woodland are being planted by watercourses in the Upper Ure catchment over the next few weeks.

Newbiggin Beck in mid-Wensleydale (pictured) is one such area where trees are about to go into the ground.

The planting will create better conditions for fish and stabilise riverbanks.

In each case farmers have readily agreed to the planting.  Recent flooding, such as in November last year, saw large amounts of soil being washed away by the Ure and its tributaries.

The ten new woodlands constitute the first part of a project known as ‘Keep Ure Rivers Cool’. 

Woodlands Project Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), Phill Hibbs, speaking during a site visit to Newbiggin Beck, said:  “We can see some tree cover along the edge of the beck.  It’s mainly mature trees – a couple of oaks on one side, a sycamore on the other – and there is not much natural regeneration. Any young trees have been grazed out, so we’re having a decline in tree cover.  That means more sunlight is getting to the beck and warming the water and that’s not good for the native fish. 

“What planting like this will do is cast dappled shade and cool the river, as well as stabilise the banks.  Flood fencing, not square fencing, will be used, so that when it floods the fence won’t get taken away.  We’re not using plastic tree guards here, as we don’t want them to get into the beck, so instead we’re planting in a much higher density – a new tree every metre rather than every two metres – to try to overcome the rabbit problem.  We’ll be planting native trees that can stand in the wet: goat willow, grey willow, alder, downy birch and alder.”

‘Keep Ure Rivers Cool’  is a Dales to Vale Rivers Network partnership project bringing together the YDNPA, Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (YDRT), Woodland Trust, Wild Trout Trust, University of Leeds and Environment Agency to plant riparian trees at priority sites along the Ure catchment.

Sarah Clarke, Senior Catchment Partnership Officer at YDRT, said:  “The Wensleydale Project strategy and Environment Agency mapping work has shown that the Ure is suffering from extreme temperature ranges owing to a lack of shade from bankside trees. This causes problems for aquatic life, particularly during the summer months and during drought conditions.

“The ‘Keeping Ure Rivers Cool’ project has identified 83 sites amounting to 6.2 km of riparian habitat creation.  We may not be able to get all these sites planted up with trees, but carrying out work on the top ten is a good start.  The planting will help species such as river lamprey, brown trout, white clawed crayfish, otter and kingfisher.  We’re going to involve volunteers and school children, too, as the project develops.  The more people that care for riversides, the better.” 

‘Keep Ure Rivers Cool’ is one of the projects designed to meet the National Park Management objectives C3 on improving river water quality and D5 on natural flood management.

Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


4 Replies to “Farmers see case for riverside tree-planting”

  1. Diane Horner says:

    “ The planting will help species such as river lamprey, brown trout, white clawed crayfish, otter and kingfisher. We’re going to involve volunteers and school children, too, as the project develops. The more people that care for riversides, the better.”

    Won’t Otter eat Crayfish Brown Trout etc ?? Are you not, in effect, just creating a better environment for Otters?? Please explain ?

    • News Release says:

      Hello Diane, Thanks for your questions. Otters would eat crayfish and brown trout. This project would be create a better environment for otters, as well as other plants and animals. The presence of otters would indicate good water quality and a healthy ecosystem. This little project hasn’t got otters at its heart, though. Otters would be a bonus. The main point is to plant trees to cast dappled shade over the beck to help keep the waters cool. Trout hate anything above 21 degrees Celsius and start to get stressed at 18 degrees. It was interesting to see a few yellow primroses down by Newbiggin beck. Primroses are a woodland plant so their presence would indicate that the beck had more trees along it in the past than now. Best wishes, Andrew, Communications Team

  2. John Fawcett says:

    I worked in forestry for a number of years and manage the woodlands on a local estate so have a reasonable amount of knowledge on tree planting. The Newbiggin beck project is a complete waste of time and money where it is now:
    1. No rabbit protection
    2. You shouldn’t plant trees with in at least 12 metres from power lines
    3. Never done a proper survey because if it had been surveyed you would have found that that beck runs dry most of the summer and there has never been any species of fish in that beck in my lifetime.There use to be some down below the water fall many years ago but never that far up.
    Saying that I totally agree with your policy I think it’s great these projects are happening, trees are the best way for maintaining river banks but you need to do it in the right places.You have to get local knowledge on these places otherwise it’s a total waste of time and money.I’ve lived less than half a mile from that site for nearly 55 years you can’t beat local knowledge you can have all the experts you want but there’s no substitute for experience.

    • News Release says:

      Hello John, Sorry for the time taken to make a reply. We were going to take this as a comment, but having thought about it further, it might be better for us to make a response. The National Park Authority values local knowledge highly. Just a few miles down the road you might have heard about all the work done for dormice – and a lot of that has been based on the local knowledge of farmers. To respond to your three points:

      1. Good point, it’s a very rabbity area. You’ll be aware of concerns about plastic tree guards, though, especially when put by watercourses. So the decision here was to fence off the planting (as usual), then instead of using plastic tree guards for every tree, plant the trees in a higher density than usual on the assumption that some might fall prey to rabbits if the rabbits manage to get through the fence.
      2. Our trees team didn’t think there was such a thing as a blanket 12 metre rule? The planting scheme has considered the power line going through the site. Only shrubby species go under the power line; those trees will never reach the height of the line.
      3. A detailed mapping exercise was carried out by the Environment Agency. If Newbiggin Beck runs dry every summer, that alone wouldn’t necessarily mean fish such as brown trout wouldn’t use it at other times of the year. Trout in the upper dales will lay eggs in November. The fry will be out and about by mid-March. If a beck goes dry in late spring/summer, they can move downstream. It is noted what you say about the waterfall, though. It could be that the waterfall means that the adult brown trout can’t get up Newbiggin Beck to spawn, and that’s why you haven’t seen any fish. Even so, there are still benefits for fish to the pocket of woodland being planted. The overall aim is to create more dappled shade over the upper Ure and its tributaries to keep the waters cool (‘Keep Ure River Cool’). Any cooling of the water will be transported downstream. Cooler water on the upper reaches of Newbiggin Beck will create better conditions further down it and then in the Ure (albeit Newbiggin Beck is one of very many tributaries but many small improvements should add up).
      Andrew, Communications Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *