Wildlife Trust receives funding to restore river quality

Bringing nature back to Birmingham’s river valleys.

The Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust are delighted to announce that, as part of a £1.5 million-pound investment to restore the quality of rivers and surrounding landscape in Birmingham, three weirs have been removed from the Bourn Brook at Woodgate Valley Country Park. This work has been completed through Natural Rivers and Green Corridors, a three-year project to restore and enhance natural wildlife habitats for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The removal of the weirs will restore natural processes within the brook to enable fish and aquatic insects to move and migrate, and provide a vital habitat for a rich variety of plants and diverse wildlife to thrive. Residents and visitors are encouraged to report on the new and exciting wildlife species as nature is given a fresh opportunity to survive and flourish.

The weir removals are part of a wider set of interventions aimed to improve river landscapes in Birmingham by making improvements to 1.5 km2 of woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and watercourses, resulting in improved ecological connectivity within public open space corridors of the upper River Rea sub-catchment in south-west Birmingham and along the River Tame corridor in west Birmingham and bringing about a number of other benefits to local communities such as reduced flood risk.

In partnership with Birmingham City Council, the Environment Agency and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Natural Rivers and Green Corridors aims to improve Birmingham’s natural wildlife habitats, and in doing so, the project will benefit communities by making local green spaces more attractive and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

The £1.5 million investment supports the delivery of strategic green and blue infrastructure objectives set out in Birmingham’s Green Living Spaces Plan, the Environment Agency’s Humber River Basin Management Plan and Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area Ecological Strategy 2017-2022.

Simon Atkinson, Head of Conservation at The Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust said: “It is really exciting to see how much more natural the river looks and how, together with the habitat improvements we have made to the adjacent areas.

“We really are bringing nature right into the heart of the city, allowing not only for the restoration of natural processes but also providing a better, more natural environment for local communities to enjoy.”

Matt Lawrence, Environment Programme Manager at the Environment Agency said: “Urban streams and rivers are a vital resource for our wildlife. It’s great to be involved in a project that will not only hugely improve a neglected brook but will also connect people with nature for their health and wellbeing.

“Removing artificial barriers like weirs significantly improves river ecology and water quality. This project will take us another step further towards delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan’s vision of ensuring that our rivers become places where wildlife can thrive.”

Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “By restoring Bourn Brook’s natural functions, we are improving the watercourse’s ability to be resilient to flooding, pollution and climate change. This a significant achievement for the Natural Rivers and Green Corridors Project, and something we have been working towards for some time, with our project partners the Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

“Woodgate Valley Country Park is one of Birmingham’s most valuable greenspaces. We have already received positive feedback from the Park’s visitors about the project and improving its bio-diversity will help to make it more resilient and more attractive. I hope this will encourage more people to get back into nature and enjoy the beautiful countryside we have on our doorstep.”

By investing in improvements to green and blue infrastructure, the project will also deliver economic and social benefits such as reduced flood risk and improved health and well-being.