River salmon require a river to be wriggly to slow the water down for egg laying

Because conservationists have ensured that a river in Cumbria (in the north of England) is once again wriggly after it had been straightened out for about a kilometre 150 years ago, salmon have returned to the river to breed as the water now moves more slowly and it is therefore more suitable to lay eggs in. It is a simple and elegant example of marine wildlife conservation.

Swindale Beck made wriggly again for 1 km
Swindale Beck made wriggly again for 1 km to help in the conservation of Atlantic river salmon. Image: Google.

The river concerned is the Swindale Beck on the eastern edge of the Lake District. During the Victorian era rivers were not uncommonly straightened out because they believed that faster flowing water would help reduce flooding. The problem is that although it did help reduce flooding where it had been straightened, further downstream it caused more flooding.

And because almost 75% of salmon rivers in the UK are deemed at risk meaning that the present salmon population levels are unsustainable and liable to imminent collapse, in 2016, work was carried out by the RSPB, Environment Agency, Natural England and United Utilities to return this stretch of river to its natural course. It passes through the Hawswater reserve.

The RSPB said that “biodiversity decline and the climate crisis are interlinked [and are having a] devastating impact on salmon populations across the UK”.

The crisis is so bad that it could lead to the loss of salmon from Britain’s rivers completely. The thought is shocking. And it is another indication of the crisis in the protection of nature in the UK.

The salmon in Swindale Beck migrate from the sea via the Solway Firth and the River Eden. They hope that there is a happy spin-off to the increased salmon numbers in the river and that they attract other wildlife as part of the ecosystem in the area such as kingfishers and otters.

The project is one of more than 100 concerned with restoration of rivers in Cumbria. The projects were awarded the European River Prize for their contribution to improving rivers.

The Times is running a clean-up water campaign. Well done to The Times. They are fighting the large water companies which routinely discharge sewage into rivers and the sea damaging conservation efforts at a time when the UK is in dire need of improved conservation of nature.

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Post Category: Conservation