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How can you keep your river healthy and clean? Part 1: In-channel vegetation

In a series of short articles, we will provide advice on helping to maintain the health of our globally rare chalk streams and lowland rivers in Norfolk. In times of drought and hot weather, this is especially important because of the wildlife our rivers support; endangered white-clawed crayfish, brown trout, eels, and water voles are just a few of the iconic species at risk in Norfolk – and you can do your bit to help protect them!

In-channel vegetation:

While it is tempting to “tidy” the river by pulling out plants, this can actually do more harm than good. The vegetation in the river is vital in so many ways! Firstly, plants provide shade to the channel, thereby reducing the temperature of the water and keeping the water oxygenated. Secondly, plants hold back water in exceptionally low flows, allowing the invertebrates and fish to survive in the damp conditions. Thirdly, plants act as “natural filters”, absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants, which results in cleaner water downstream. And lastly, removing vegetation means that essential fool, which most of the aquatic food chain relies on, is lost too!

Please call the Environment Agency for advice, but generally the vegetation dies down over winter anyway.

If you are a landowner with riparian land and would like to talk to us about restoration and rewilding, please do get in touch with us at Norfolk Rivers Trust. We offer a wide range of services including surveys, restoration and management advice. Email [email protected]

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