We received significant funding from the Cummins Community Foundation to deliver a year-long community engagement project focussed around Spa Wood, Lockwood. The aim is to educate local people about the river and how to care for it, as well as creating a safe, outdoor green space for leisure, education and conservation.
As part of the project, we employed a student GIS specialist on a summer placement, to map the River Holme, which will provide valuable data to inform future conservation activities. Community events, school visits and Citizen Science projects will take place throughout the year, culminating in a festival and leaving a legacy art installation.
Project cost: funding plus volunteer time in excess of £50,000
Funding for the project is thanks to Cummins Community Foundation. The project was also made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, support from Peak District National Park who hosted River Explorer Days and First Bus who transported children to Langsett outdoor centre. Thanks also to the University of Huddersfield for hosting our festival.
Spa Wood is a wildlife-rich riverside woodland and walkway leading from Lockwood Scar to King’s Bridge on the outskirts of Huddersfield town centre, which is underused by local families. Research has also shown that young people in the area spend very little time outdoors and have little connection with nature and wildlife.
We wanted to encourage young people and families to experience the benefits that spending time in green areas can bring. Through a series of events we want to encourage families from Lockwood and Newsome to discover the river and woodland on their doorstep. We also want to educate the next generation about the river, the wildlife it supports and its role in creating a healthy environment.
After all, they will be the future custodians of the River Holme.
The project started in autumn 2018. Since that time we’ve engaged with local schools, delivering Citizen Science projects to more than 200 primary and infant school children in schools around
During May and June 2019 almost 350 children plus teachers will experience our River Explorer Day thanks to the Peak National Park and First Bus. During the day, children from Years 5 & 6, learn about the river and its role in providing a healthy environment.
Throughout June, a series of events based around Spa Wood have been organised for local families. Events will also take place in 2 Lockwood residential nursing homes. All events are designed to encourage families to engage with the river environment and experience the benefits it offers.
A 2-day festival on 22nd and 23rd of October at the University of Huddersfield took place.
On Tuesday 22nd October, 5 industry-leading experts presented talks on different river-related subjects.
Chris Dean, Moors for the Future kicked off proceedings with a talk on how the peat bog moorland above Huddersfield has potential to mitigate climate change by locking in carbon. It’s also an important asset in flood management. Over the past couple of decades, Moors for the Future have re-planted acres of moorland with sphagnum moss, which not only holds more water but prevents peat from being washed away. Read more about their work here.
Andrew McCloy, Peak District National Park Authority, talked about the way in which our National Parks are already suffering the effects of climate change with fires, drought and flood creating challenging conditions for flora and fauna. He went on to talk about the opportunities that our National Parks offer in terms of leading by example in changing behaviours that will reduce carbon emissions. Read more about their work here.
Professor Carolyn Roberts, Professor Emerita of Environment, and Fellow, Gresham College, London, spoke to a sell-out crowd about the new science of forensic hydrology. Carolyn’s fascinating and occasionally gruesome talk focussed on her work with the police. By analysing river flow and weather conditions, Carolyn’s work helps the police discover where bodies dumped in rivers come from or go to. Watch Professor Roberts’ talk here.
Rob Casey, Thames Warden, Water Conservators Company, took a no-holds-barred look at the impact of plastic waste on the water environment, revealing the uncomfortable truth behind some of our modern-day habits. The financial and environmental cost of bottled water was examined along with the creation of monster fatbergs in our sewage systems due, in part to flushable wipes. Find out more about the Water Conservators here.
Dr Paul Gaskell, North of England Programme Manager, Wild Trout Trust, completed the evening. His talk focussed on how our rivers are the lifeblood of our towns. Recent environmental and health crises, and the huge decline in insect life are stark warnings that our lives depend on healthy ecosystem and we all need to take practical action to improve our river environments. Find out more about the Wild Trout Trust here.
On Wednesday, schoolchildren from local primary schools visited the University of Huddersfield for a programme of river-related activity. The aim was to educate the next generation – and future custodians of our river systems – about our rivers and the important role they play in our lives. It was also an opportunity to give the children an insight into the University and inspire them with the opportunities a university education can provide.
The children were treated to an interactive session on the effects of pollution on the wildlife that live in our rivers. They also identified river bugs and, thanks to the Moors for the Future Bogtastic Bus, learned about the importance of our moorland bog peats. One child commented: ‘This is the best trip ever!’
Ryan Lloyd, A GIS student placement was appointed in April 2019. With the help of volunteers, Ryan is mapping the River Holme catchment, identifying invasive species, wildlife, outflow pipes and other data sets that will help us to inform and target our future conservation work.
A stylised map has been created, showing the various walks through Spa Wood.
The community work has allowed us to reach new audiences. Many more people are now aware of Spa Wood, the River Holme and the health and well-being benefits green and blue open spaces provide.
Spa Wood is in a much better condition. Litter and invasive species have been removed from the river and woodland and railings added to the refurbished seating areas. New wayfinding signage makes the path easier to identify and find.
More than 1,200 schoolchildren were given the opportunity to learn more about our rivers and the life they support.
Ryan’s mapping work has provided a valuable resource that provides a benchmark to measure future projects against, and enables our team to target our work more effectively.