Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) and the Environment Agency (EA) are proud to be facilitating the delivery of the Love Your River Cole (LYRiC) project, aimed at actively improving the health status and ecosystem quality of the River Cole. We intend to create an environment which is beneficial to both wildlife and people.
Why the River Cole?
The River Cole is considered a landmark in the local area, with the definite potential to become a valued, high quality and multi-functional blue-green corridor within its catchment through East Birmingham, North Solihull and North Warwickshire,
Currently, the River Cole is in poor condition, both physically and ecologically. Historically many rivers within the Midlands have been drastically altered and negatively affected by human actions; for example, artificial straightening, canalisation or concreting banks, obstructions of the water, heavy erosion from poor farming practices and high rates of sedimentation. This has not only caused adverse effects to the physical features of the river and the quality of its ecosystem, but has also damaged the biodiversity of the river environment. Another important factor affecting the present state of the River Cole is the water quality, due to human activities in various reaches of the water.
There is a well-studied link between the ecological quality of an environment and the happiness of its local community. By improving the state of the River Cole, we hope to not only benefit the natural wildlife but also the many people in communities surrounding the river.
What does LYRiC involve?
Tame Valley Wetlands are working in collaboration with local landowners, government organisations, charities, schools and other interested community groups to improve the physical and ecological status of the River Cole. This will create a resilient river ecosystem and a better, healthier space for wildlife and people. We are also engaging with local and corporate volunteer groups to carry out work and deliver activities, which will help to create awareness and promote the vision of the Wildlife Trust in terms of greater ecosystem conservation. In this way, LYRiC is beneficial for all parties.
There are four main aims of LYRiC:
1. To CREATE a high quality blue-green corridor for use as an alternative travel route for local or commuting journeys
2. To ENHANCE the natural and historic environment, the biodiversity and water quality, the surrounding flood prevention measures and the opportunities provided by the river.
3. To STIMULATE partnership working to approach catchment-wide issues, to deliver policy aspirations and unlock funding opportunities.
4. To RECONNECT local communities and businesses to improve well-being and resilience, and help people value the environmental benefits and cultural heritage provided by the River Cole.
What work will be done to improve the River Cole?
We plan to carry out work in action zones along the River Cole in order to meet our four aims. Each action zone has been identified as having issues to be addressed but also providing unique opportunities for immprovement. TVWLP and the EA have proposed various schemes to be carried out within these action zones for improvement works to the river.
- De-paving, the removal of unnecessary pavements, will create more green spaces and improve the quality of the ecosystem around the river.
- Rainwater gardens are small areas of garden created to catch water running off roofs and other surfaces. Creating rainwater gardens locally to the River Cole will help reduce the flooding risk by lessening the amount of rainwater which flows into the river.
- Reconnecting the river to local floodplains is important for creating natural defenes in order to protect residential and business areas from the risk of flooding. Floodplains are areas of land which are allowed to flood, so that other areas are at a lesser risk of flooding.
- Improvements to water quality will be an important aspect of the project, which can be achieved by raising awareness to largely reduce the input of pollution into the river.
- Invasive species management is also important for the ecological health of the River Cole. Non-native invasive species (NNIS) such as Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed pose a threat by out-competing native species whilst offering little to the ecosystem themselves. This means invasive plants must be managed to reduce and remove their impact on the environment. You can read an update on our progress with control of Himalayan balsam here and here.
- Enhancement of the botanical biodiversity by planting native species along the river banks will be beneficial to other wildlife by providing a variety of habitats and food sources, as well as acting as a natural barrier to sedimentation and run-off of pollution into the river.
By carrying out these works and raising awareness of the importance of the River Cole to its local and wider ecosystem, we strive to create an inspiring environment which provides opportunities, enhances appreciation of cultural heritage, benefits the health of communities and makes nature more accessible.
The support and involvement of local communities throughout the Love Your River Cole project is essential for its success, as the River Cole is a core aspect of the local environment.
Have your say
Tame Valley Wetlands welcome suggestions, opinions or queries regarding the work we plan to do. Please get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter, or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will soon be able to download our leaflet for printable information on our LYRiC project.