Stour wildlife receives a helping hand

Hoo Brook by Jess Nott

Wildlife charities and the Environment Agency are joining forces to help wildlife on the Hoo Brook, a tributary of the River Stour.

Staff from the Environment Agency will be placing root plates of willow trees into the bank of the brook to help vary the flow of the water and to provide refuges for young fish. The work is part of the Salmon in the Stour project, which is helping to improve the river for both wildlife and people.

Jess Nott, a conservation officer for Worcestershire Wildlife Trust who is leading the project, explained “It’s really exciting that this work is coming to fruition. The Environment Agency has already removed vast quantities of plastic that had been blocking the brook in this area so it’s great that we can move onto the next stage.

Tree root plate being installed

Tree root plate being installed

“The Hoo Brook at this point is quite a straight channel so installing the tree root plates into the bank will create a more dynamic flow for the water. Water flowing at different speeds will improve conditions for fish and invertebrates that live in the brook.

“Fish need different habitats at different stages of their lives and the immediate area of water downstream of each root plate will provide them with shelter and refuge. Invertebrates will be able to take shelter between the roots and will be an important source of food for the fish.”

The work to install seven root plates will take place at the end of January. The trees, removed as part of forestry works in Derbyshire, will be securely fixed into the banks of the Hoo Brook with just their root plates exposed in the brook.

This is just one part of a much bigger plan to make the River Stour a wonderful river for both the wildlife that lives in and around it as well as the many people who enjoy it.

The River Stour rises in the Clent Hills and meanders through the Black Country before flowing through Worcestershire. The Salmon in the Stour project is working to improve both the river and its tributaries, such as the Hoo Brook, for wildlife and people.

The River Stour is an important part of the heritage of the area and the project not only wants to see salmon breeding in the catchment headwaters again but also wants to see wildlife like otters, kingfishers and water voles thriving along its length.

An ambitious project, it is already working with local communities, businesses and volunteers to make a difference.

Installing tree root plates in the Hoo Brook