Catchment Systems Thinking (CaST) is United Utilities’ approach to managing catchments in a holistic, integrated manner. The CaST approach, as described by United Utilities, encourages us to think beyond catchment land, looking at the wider environment, incorporating natural capital decision making to consider what is best for the environment, customers and communities by integrating risks and driving multiple natural capital benefits. See CaST website for more information.
SCRT were successful in our CaST bid for reedbed creation and restoration around Windermere.
A bit of background
Since 2000 there has been a gradual decline in lake condition.
Increasing phytoplankton levels and toxic blue-green algal blooms (cyanobacteria), combined with a depletion in oxygen concentrations in deeper parts of the lake, is impacting water quality and threatening native species. Windermere is used for drinking water abstraction by United Utilities and has four designated bathing water sites. Water quality also plays a major part in tourism. It can impact upon the visual appearance, clarity of the water, plant and animal life. In turn, affecting recreation and enjoyment of the lake. A combination of factors have contributed to the decline in water quality and yet and yet the majority of the public still perceive Windermere as a pristine environment.
Reedbeds have declined by 90% in recent years, yet they are an important habitat for intercepting pollution before it enters the watercourse. They are also a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat. Our project will address water quality issues through reedbed planting at priority sites.
Our project will also address public perception by engaging communities with nature by planting reedbeds and other activities through work party days; as well as wider public engagement activities, e.g. reedbed walks, demo days and talks at local community groups.
We will be undertaking practical reedbed restoration and community engagement days at four reedbed sites across Windermere, equating to 800 sq m of Reedbed creation / restoration.
This proposal supports delivery of the Catchment Plan for South Cumbria Catchment Partnership (https://btob.scrt.co.uk/). Water Quality is identified as the main issue faced by the Windermere and Leven catchment and this project supports direct delivery of two actions in the Catchment Plan: (1) The restoration of reedbed habitat and extent, and (2) Tackling diffuse pollution across the Windermere catchment.
It also supports a range of other projects named in the Catchment Plan that are currently taking place, as well as supporting and implementing the Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
This project will also explore options for biodiversity offsetting to fund future water quality improvement works.
Keep an eye out on our events page for an opportunity to help plant some reeds with us!