Article - The River Blog

Hello from Ella Scharff – RHC’s Year in Industry Student

Author: Jane Skilling
Categories: Uncategorised

I am working for River Holme Connections to gain experience within a successful river conservation charity, as part of my Marine Biology degree at the University of Exeter. 

My degree so far has been filled with wildlife and the outdoors, and I am looking forward to carrying on the theme with RHC. I have been secretary of Expedition Society for the past year at University. This involved organising hikes and social events for walkers on campus, so I will definitely be getting involved with RHC’s walking events along the river! I also carried out 30 hours of beach cleans along the Cornish coast and am excited to help at our River Clean-Up days. 

Ella with some giant hogweed

Conservation is such an important part of RHC, and we are gaining support for tree-planting within the catchment. Trees would not only combat climate change by increasing the amounts of CO2 absorbed in the valley, but they would also act as a natural flood defence by slowing the flow of heavy rain into the river. This prevents the river from breaking its banks during flood events. I am concerned for the future of world’s climatebut the work that RHC are doing to combat climate breakdown is already helping to protect it. If you would like to support the work we are doing, why not download the Fit4Change App? By recording your walks, runs and cycle-rides, you can automatically provide funding for our work at RHC.  

have worked for Cornwall Wildlife Trust over the past year as part of their membership and engagement team. My role was to sign people up for membership at local events and discuss projects that the charity was running at the time. From this, I now understand the importance of working with volunteers and the local community to protect wildlife. With over 5,000 volunteer hours worked for RHC in 2019, support from the community is essential to our success. 

Wildlife within the Holme Valley is abundant and one of my first plans as a Year in Industry student is to create a Wildlife Monitoring Project. This will involve the underwater filming of river species like brown troutwhite-clawed crayfish and stone loach, as well as setting up cameras throughout the valley to capture evidence of terrestrial creatures such as badgers and foxes. Anyone who has useful tips from using underwater and trail cameras, don’t hesitate to contact RHC so we can make the best out of this project.

Here is an example trail cam video that you can download. I captured this during lockdown: A curious deer (camera trap).

Wildlife is an important part of people’s collective culture, and to conserve the River Holme and its catchment allows us to maintain this part of our identity. I am excited to be a part of the River Holme Connections team and all the amazing conservation work that we will do over the next year. 

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