Durham Wildlife Trust is using SCIMAP to identify areas with high fine sediment pollution risk within the River Wear catchment. The trust exists to protect wildlife and is therefore committed to tackling the problems that excess fine sediment cause in aquatic ecosystems; problems such as increased turbidity, reduced visibility and the smothering of the channel bed, all of which degrade the habitat quality for aquatic species. In order to tackle these problems, the trust needs to know where to target its resources. SCIMAP identifies the highest risk sub-catchments, tributaries and fields, allowing the trust to prioritise work in areas that need it most. The results show the source areas and pathways of eroded material, as well as identifying channel stretches that are likely to have higher sediment concentrations, thus allowing practical management interventions to be proposed at strategic locations. These could include buffer and wetland creation, fencing of vulnerable land and even cultivation changes. The trust will also use ecological, water quality and flood data from the Environment Agency to further prioritise areas based on correlation of high sediment risk with other pressures. Interventions can then be designed to tackle multiple problems and consequently lead to a greater positive outcome. With the SCIMAP results as a foundation, the trust aims to work with landowners to make the intervention proposals a reality, thus reducing fine sediment delivery rates and enhancing aquatic ecosystems.
Elizabeth Willows, Durham Wildlife Trust