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Working with local landowners to create riparian woodlands

26 January 2024

  • River Bollin
  • Picture of trees alongside a river
  • Picture of trees alongside stream

The Mersey Forest has recently launched a Riparian Woodland Creation Project, which aims to help reduce flood risk and improve water quality by increasing tree cover along the watercourses of Cheshire and Merseyside.
 

This is a new, grant funded opportunity, which will cover up to 100% of the costs of implementation and ongoing management for 15 years, leaving a lasting legacy on your land and making a positive contribution to the local community.  

Experienced advisors from our team will support landowners to develop their scheme free of charge and, as we're a locally based organisation, we will visit the proposed site to ensure a planting scheme is designed that works for the land and the landowner. 
The project aims to transform the banks of our waterways into flourishing havens of biodiversity, while helping to reduce flood risk, improving water quality and enhancing the resilience of your land.  

We're keen to work with landowners on this project, creating woodland that can work alongside productive agricultural land. Landowners can access our Trees for Climate or Grow Back Greener grant schemes which can cover up to 100% of woodland creation costs. We can also look at other Natural Flood Management (NFM) options such as leaky dams which have been highly effective in other areas of the Mersey Forest and elsewhere in the country. 

Why create riparian woodland? 

  • Reduced soil erosion. Riparian woodland slows the flow of runoff before reaching a watercourse, allowing sediment to settle, and holding valuable soil on your land, instead of it washing away downstream. Ditches also take longer to silt up, so management is reduced. 

  • Livestock benefits. Trees can provide valuable shelter for livestock during winter and shade during summer and help to reduce livestock contact with waterborne diseases. Additionally, where footpaths run alongside watercourses, fenced off riparian buffer strip can separate people and dogs from your fields, reducing the risk of livestock worrying.  

  • Bank erosion. If you are losing parts of a field due to bank erosion, strategically planting riparian woodland along these sections will help to stabilise the riverbank through the tree's root structures. 

  • Countryside Stewardship. Maintenance payments are often available for land on which woodland is planted and NFM interventions are installed. ​​

  • Improve water quality. Riparian woodland helps to filter runoff and reduce the effects of spray drift, reducing loss of fertilisers, pesticides and sediment into watercourses and helping you meet the farming rules for water.  

  • Crop management. Straightening field edges can enhance management operations and woodland provides habitat for pollinators and predators of pests. 

  • Reduce flood risk. Riparian woodland acts like a sponge, absorbing floodwaters and slowing their flow. This can help to reduce the risk of flooding downstream by temporarily storing flood water and reducing peak flows downstream. 

  • Increased biodiversity. Riparian woodlands provide a home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Planting riparian woodland on your land can help to support biodiversity and create a haven for wildlife. 

  • Reduced water temperatures. The shade provided by riparian trees will have an increasingly important part to play as the effects of climate change increase. Cool water temperatures are critical to the survival of many aquatic species.  

 

Potential sites for riparian woodland creation 


Riparian woodland can be anything from a narrow strip of trees and shrubs directly along the bank top, to wider strips of woodland extending onto the floodplain.

 

All riparian woodland, whatever its size, is beneficial and we're keen to talk to landowners about potential woodland creation schemes big or small (funding is available for projects of 0.1ha upwards).

 

If you own or manage land along the banks of rivers, streams, or drainage ditches and would like to explore if riparian woodland could help these areas, we would love to hear from you. 


Woodland creation grants are available 

 

Mersey Forest is currently offering grant funding for woodland creation through the Government's multi-million-pound, national Trees for Climate and Grow Back Greener programmes. This offers: 

  • Grant funding to cover up to 100% of the costs of woodland creation

  • Woodland creation, design, planning and planting advice from experienced, professional woodland advisors. 

  • Support for fences, water troughs, gates, contractors, Natural Flood

  • ​Management structures (such as leaky dams), and more

  • A funded ongoing maintenance plan to ensure success.   

Interested in learning more? 

 

If you have any questions about planting riparian woodland on your land or would like to know more about how to access this funding, please contact mail@merseyforest.org.uk using "Riparian Woodlands Project" and your site name in the email title; or call 01925 816217. 

 





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