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WCRT River Keekle volunteer day - Tree Planting

Together with the West Cumbria Rivers Trust, on 22nd February 2022 JFN volunteers, as part of our social value environmental conservation outreach work, planted 500 trees along the banks of the River Keekle, near Whitehaven.

The area was badly damaged after a major project to remove a plastic lining from the riverbed!

Esther Foster, West Cumbria Rivers Trust volunteer guide on the day, told our team that “a lot of the conservation work they do is undoing mistakes of the past!”

A 2.5km stretch of the River Keekle was lined with plastic in the early 1990s in an attempt to stop waste from a nearby coal mine from getting into the water table and seeping up through the riverbed. However, this plastic lining had slowly deteriorated over the years. Scientists at the University of Salford studied samples from the sediment bed of a lake downstream, finding 4.5kg of plastic per cubic metre. They estimate the sheet has been shedding plastic at a rate of 500kgs a year.

The plastic was detrimental to the natural processes that would usually keep a river healthy, severely damaging habitats, as well as being a real eyesore in an otherwise beautiful outdoor area.

To remove the plastic, the riverbanks were damaged and left with no cover, so this winter West Cumbria Rivers Trust are planting 2000 trees in the area to help regenerate it, stabilise the riverbanks in the long term, provide habitats, and offer sheltered spots along the river for many species.

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Despite the mud from the preceding days, the weather broke, and the sun was shining, and all our volunteers had a very enjoyable and fulfilling day. If you want to be involved, you can register as a volunteer now. We’re planning other environmental conservation outreach work at our other sites so everyone across the company can get involved!

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