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YORKSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST

IMPROVING CLIFTON BECK’S WATER


EVALUATION SUMMARY
JUNE 2018
SALLY FORT
WWW.SALLYFORT.COM
SUMMARY
The Clifton Beck Project run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), aimed to work with natural heritage to
reduce environmental impact by improving beck water quality and the surrounding land, so that biodiversity can flourish. Using natural systems and
techniques often many centuries old, staff and volunteers focused on three sites along the beck’s 16km path down through West Yorkshire. The project
involved over a hundred volunteers who worked over 12 months to attend workshops, learn new skills, carry out many tasks on site, and share the
project with the wider local public. A project co-ordinator role was created to drive the project forward, and a project traineeship supported the co-
ordinator, led volunteers, and developed his own skills ready to move towards full time permanent employment.
At the top of the beck in Bradford, a local farmer and his land at Bobby Green Farm worked with the group to help reduce sedimentation in the water.
Invasive non-native plants were removed from the area; stretches of fencing and a buffer zone of more sympathetic, native plants, including hundreds
of trees, were installed to protect the water from farmland activities and livestock damage, providing a better place for more species to thrive. Willow
spiling was added to further stabilize the banks.
Further down at Judy Woods, a large stretch of ancient woodland, the project added capacity to and diversified the work being carried out by the
Friends of Judy Woods group. Together the groups removed infant beech trees and Himalayan balsam so other species could thrive and encourage
stronger biodiversity. They replaced these with hundreds of native trees, more suited to the ancient woodland and locality, and regenerated a
wildflower garden at the edge of an archaeological project on site. They added leaky dams to the beck, slowing the flow of water and creating new
habitats for water species; and made and installed bird and bat boxes to help further the support for local, native biodiversity.
At the lowest end of the beck, the team worked at Wellholme Park where banks have eroded and were at further risk from walkers, dogs and children
who use the park and wander down to the water’s edge frequently. Here, swathes of Himalayan balsam were removed; more trees were planted; new
steps constructed to stop further erosion by encouraging visitors to more manageable spots; willow spiling was installed to help stabilize the banks; and
many many bags of litter were removed.
A training programme added structured learning of new skills for land managers, land and environment agency employees, horse owners, volunteers
and interested members of the public. Workshops included how to monitor water quality; how to identify and manage invasive species; how to
improve the quality and biodiversity of lands around the area; and how to lead volunteer task groups.
Meanwhile a public engagement strand worked with schools and those passing through the sites to help raise their awareness of the work and how
they can help. This included school workshops, community launch and celebration events, and a range of permanent, pop-up, conversational and
digital interpretation helped deepen the learning to leave a legacy of knowledge complementing the changes to land and water.

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THEORY OF CHANGE
The overarching long term impact the project worked towards was to REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT by improving space for biodiversity and
moving water quality from poor to good. The four project strands aimed to do this through the following activities, outputs and outcomes:

PROGRAMME ACTIVITY OUTPUT OUTCOME

Series of events and task days Heritage will be better interpreted


and explained
1. INFORM THE 'Yellow Fish' school workshops 75 children, 5 schools
COMMUNITY People will have changed attitudes or
New interpretation at key sites behaviours

Volunteer days 10 water monitoring points


People will have developed skills
Training 1 traineeship
2. ENGAGE LOCAL People will have
Facilitate self led citizen science 20 trained water quality monitoring volunteered time
PEOPLE
volunteers
Establish long term group Heritage will be better identified and
8 trained invasive non-native species recorded
Host conservation traineeship management volunteers

3. LOCAL LAND Land management workshop 15 landowners / managers


MANAGER Heritage will be better managed
COLLABORATION Long term land management planning 66 acres improved

Farmland: 24 hectares improved;


1.3km riperian buffer zone developed

Improving beckside farmland, ancient Woodland: 33 hectares improved


4. ACT TO MAKE A beckside woodland and public Heritage will be in better condition
DIFFERENCE beckside parkland Parkland: 6 hectares improved

16km beckside banks improved

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FINDINGS

The project set out with a clear plan of what to YWT hoped to achieve, where, how and with whom. Almost all of this was realised, and where
unforeseeable barriers caused problems, the team were quick to adapt and find good solutions and alternatives. They also managed to draw down
from several other resources to expand the scale and locations of the work, adding much more value to the project than initial plans set out. This
summary and report covers activity up to the end of May 2018, though some final aspects continued for a few weeks afterwards.

CONSTRUCTING STEPS AT WELLHOLME PARK WILDLIFE AT JUDY WOODS (TOP)


AND WELLHOLME PARK (BOTTOM)

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COMMUNITY OUTCOMES
1. Early signs are positive that the project led to heritage being
better interpreted and explained, and people changing behaviours
and attitudes, though more time and evidence are needed.
2. Where there were challenges, notably vandalism to trees and
interpretation boards, project staff and volunteers acted
resiliently and creatively to ensure outcomes can still be met.
3. Anecdotally, school workshops appear to have been effective
though feedback from pupils directly would help verify this.
4. The biggest surprise was the success of innovative
interpretation brought about in response to vandalism. These
changes in interpretation impact led to an innovative new solution
in the form of geo-caching. The fast results this generated in terms
of number of visits, new audiences, depth of engagement,
learning and changes in attitude have been dramatic, and a big
surprise to the YWT team who have not worked with geocaching
before.
CHATTING AT THE COMMUNITY CELEBRATION DAY
5. Interpretation generated and shared by the community has
been especially effective. Evidence of the people being more “We have never heard of Willow Spiling before so were very interested to have a look for it. It
informed tend to come from community documentation (e.g. was shorter than expected but obviously effective. Fascinating what you learn.”
Facebook, geocaching), based on information shared by the “Was interested to see the willow spilling, as they do a similar thing along parts of canals only
community, especially volunteers (with expert input). This shows with plastic mesh woven in between posts instead of willow.”
an excellent model of engagement and ensures long term “Patrick paddled in the stream while me and Naomi watched the brown trout swimming
around, there were at least 6 reasonable sized ones.”
ownership beyond that which YWT have capacity to maintain.
“Thanks for the fascinating info on this one, something I knew nothing about.”
Other styles of temporary and pop-up interpretation which focus
“Surprisingly my wife didn't know this area behind the park existed, so it was all new to her.”
on two-way engagement rather than static information are also “As it was not school half term it was very quiet here as opposed to our last visit. We too
being developed to help build relationships not just knowledge. spotted a trout on this visit.”
The range of methods will help ensure the resources and “We were delighted to spot brown trout in the stream at this location, a first for me at least.
opportunities are accessible for a variety of audiences. Full points for fun factor, location and fact we actually saw the trout.”
“Saw several good-sized trout swimming, which surprised me. Thank you, very glad!”

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VOLUNTEER & TRAINEE OUTCOMES “Three of us went for training in River Fly Monitoring and can now tell
our olives from our caddis and our mayfly from our stone flies.”
1. 139 volunteers gave over 1200 hours, added to the trainee’s c800 hours.
2. The project generated new interest in volunteering. Around a fifth of volunteers had “The course was about learning how to survey river banks for invasive
never volunteered before; and around a third were new to environmental non-native species that are severely damaging our natural eco
volunteering. systems. Plants like Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant
Hogweed are causing major problems, particularly on our river
3. Commitment levels were good, with over half repeat volunteering, and around 10% systems, so we will be heavily involved in the fight to eradicate these
volunteering more than 15 times. plants. Large areas of Yorkshire have still not been surveyed but
hopefully we can soon get out there and make a start. The course was
4. Volunteers developed a range of conservation skills, with managing and conserving fantastic, highly informative and certainly eye opening.”
natural land being the strongest. Balsam bashing and tree planting were the most
prolifically attended task days with around 60% of volunteers having developed these
skills. “They guided us so clearly and carefully.”
5. Around 20% of volunteers attended training workshops. “They provided the equipment and gave us clear guidance.”
“They gave easy to follow instructions and friendly guidance.”
6. Skills development was very well enabled informally on task days, and this was “They provided clear information.”
highlighted as one of the things YWT do best. “They explained tasks: both the reason, and how to carry them out.”
“They were very good at letting volunteers do / learn new tasks and
7. Nature was not the only reason people wanted to volunteer. They were also looking
trusting us to do it.”
for – and gained – greater employability, more physical activity, more social activity, “They explained the benefit of the tasks I underwent.”
and a greater sense of connectivity to people, community and place. These outcomes
were the strongest of all developments on an individual level. Efforts to personalise
their volunteering experiences were recognised and contribute greatly to this success. Volunteers were…

8. Through his involvement, trainee Joe has developed many new skills, from improved • All ages from 18 to over 80.
communication skills, to project management and administration. His natural heritage • An even balance of male and female, and included non-
skills have developed such as bat surveying, leading group conservation work, brush binary representation.
cutting, and tackling invasive non-native specifies with pesticides. In his traineeship he • Predominantly white British, though some Chinese and
has provided 797 voluntary trainee hours. He has given a further 12 hours of his own South Asian people also took part.
time. Because of his involvement, bat populations are better identified and recorded, • Mostly students or retired, with some employed people
and this will continue to grow through the new permanent full-time employment he • From a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds including
secured thanks to this project. In time Joe would like to focus on conservation work, a third living in the 20% most deprived areas in the country.
continuing the impact of this traineeship. • All volunteers monitored came from West Yorkshire.

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LAND MANAGER OUTCOMES
1. Quality of land management training was high. A
new niche audience of horse riders / owners was
successfully engaged with especially high impact
results. More traditional land managers have been
harder to get on board. All aspects of the training
were thought to be of high quality. All agreed the
workshop information and venue were particularly
strong, and the sessions were very engaging. New
knowledge and understanding was achieved across
the board. The impacts were much stronger on horse
owners than land managers. Because commitment
and confidence were lower than other outcomes for
land managers, the potential to achieve change is far
less certain. Perhaps because there is a culture to be
shifted amongst this audience, whereas the topic is
completely new for the horse owners who therefore
do not have to unlearn other ways to be able to FRIENDS OF JUDY WOODS
absorb new thinking.
“Having real dams on site will have more impact and help people understand better than
2. Land will be better managed thanks to new and they could just in a meeting or presentation. It’s more real and appeals to the different
deeper relationships, immediate results, additional ways people have learning. So, it will be really useful to be able to have that example to
capacity, and structured future development. All land share across the council and wider initiatives.”
managers found the project to be beneficial and a Andrew Cutts, Assistant Tree & Woodland Planning, Bradford Council
positive experience. It was noticed that the project “It brought care of the waterside to us. We focus more on the land and woods. We didn’t
delivered, on time, and triggered additional know about leaky dams, that’s been positive, and revetments, we’ll be doing more of
resources and investment. Added value, the potential that.”
for easier advocacy due to effective examples in situ, Ian, Friends of Judy Woods Task Group
and early evidence of impact have all led the partners “The project has made me more aware of the complete picture of the beck, which I mainly
to explore more ambitious fundraising and thought of as the Judy Woods beck. The work done at Bobby Green and Wellholme Park
implementation for the future, hoping to expand has put into perspective for me.”
similar work across other areas of the region. Volunteer

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ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES
1. Much work is still to be done. Partners and volunteers are all
keen to keep going, if resources can be found.
2. Legacies will take years to really come to fruition but signs of
the natural heritage being in better condition already exist.
3. Water quality at one monitoring point has significantly
improved.
4. New species/ populations have been confirmed in the beck;
both positive and negative, meaning the water quality is good
but still at risk from invasive species.
5. New areas of invasive plant species have been identified and
will be part of annual plans to tackle this issue.
6. The beck is better protected against sediments from
livestock use through the water, and shielded from threats BOBBY GREEN FARM, BEFORE WILLOW SPILING
from surrounding farmlands.
7. Woodlands are better able to nurture biodiversity by
replacing invasive species with sympathetic native alternatives.
8. Leaky dams have already been seen slowing the water
course, thus helping stabilize banks and reduce sedimentation
entering the water
9. Added value means a wider hectarage has been improved
upstream, where benefits will flow down to the main sites.

“We enjoyed donning our waders and braving the cold waters of the
Clifton Beck at Bailiff Bridge. Once we get “our” patch of beck to test
once each month we’ll be reporting on the health of the water via a
count of each species on our recording sheets. Thanks to the Clifton
Beck Project for making this possible.” Friends of Judy Woods
BOBBY GREEN FARM, AFTER WILLOW SPILING

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RECOMMENDATIONS

This list combines best practice from the project to continue, and areas that will benefit from further development.
1. Recruit skills not knowledge for community engagement roles: The co-ordinator’s people skills were exceptional and a vital ingredient for the
success of the project. The specialist conservation expertise could be learned from colleagues.
2. Pair complementary skills and personalities when recruiting trainees: The trainee and co-ordinator offered a balance of expertise and styles of
encouraging others, enabling them to learn from each other, and nurture different types of personalities in the volunteer pool.
3. Be mindful that staff turnover is inevitable: Project or partner staff almost always change over the lifetime of any project, this is unavoidable.
However just being aware of the fact will help plans develop in ways which can adapt where necessary.
4. Be flexible, adapt plans where something isn’t working: It can be tempting to stick rigidly to a plan. However, funders invest in outcomes –
activities are just the way these are achieved. Changing activities so outcomes can be met shows resilience and good use of resources.
5. Take opportunities to add value if resources allow: So many opportunities were recognised and taken in this project. This usually needs extra
capacity or resources, so always weigh priorities and resources when deciding what additional work to commit to.
6. Innovation isn’t a risk when there’s nothing to lose: Two innovative approaches were taken in response to original plans not working and the
need for quick, low cost alternatives. Since existing models had failed, people kept an open mind and the new ideas were inspiringly successful.
7. Invest resources where they can grow: Working with those who show enthusiasm and commitment achieves more than the sum of the parts. For
others, it may not be the right thing at the right time and trying to keep them engaged can drain rather than multiply resources.
8. Plan activity at strategic locations to have the highest possible impact: Occasional opportunities are lost through errors like planting in areas that
will wash away. Assemble the right team to guide what takes place where. Local knowledge can spot issues that won’t appear on paper.
9. Tailor volunteer experiences: Long term volunteers deserve time invested in understanding their strengths and needs, and using this to tailor
experiences and opportunities. This helps them see they are genuinely valued, stay committed, and can help them at life-changing levels.
10.Embrace Micro-Volunteering: YWT understandably focusses on monitoring repeat volunteers. Changing lifestyles, competition for leisure time,
and the diversification of volunteers makes micro-volunteering (one-off helpers) equally valuable, and a more accessible, inclusive model.
11.Empower volunteers to apply their skills in other areas of life: Volunteers overlook the potential they could have by also applying new skills in a
personal context such as whilst out walking. They need explicit reminders and guidance about what, where and how to take skills home.
12.Offer a range of interpretation. Using two-way interpretation which engages people in conversations or social interactivity can have a more
lasting impact than interpretation boards. Geo-caching and pop-up sandwich boards were especially effective in engaging new audiences.
13.Raise Awareness of Accessible Volunteering: More work is needed to make those with disabilities and health conditions aware of volunteering
opportunities. Work with specialist agencies and include feedback from those with disabilities / health conditions on web/promotional material.
14.Raise Awareness of the Work’s Contribution To / Relationship with Heritage: Though impact on natural heritage is strong, too many people don’t
connect this work with heritage. Increased awareness of this would nurture even stronger relevance, benefits and commitment.

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STORY OF CHANGE
The diagram below summarises the resources and activities of the project, and the changes it made to the natural heritage of Clifton Beck.
INPUTS ACTIVITY OUTPUTS OUTCOMES IMPACT
• 2356 trees planted • Heritage is better managed
• 1200+ volunteer hours contributed • Heritage is better interpreted + explained
• 180 additional volunteer hours to Calder Rivers Trust • Reduced flood risk
• Volunteer task
for governance and water monitoring • Reduced sedimentation
days
• 146 children / young people engaged at 5 schools + 2 • Improved water quality
• Co-ordinator /
£110 youth groups • More stable riverbanks
trainee
financial • 139 volunteers over 60+ task days (ave.c5 days each) • Reduced invasive species threat
recruitment
investment 125 members of public engaged at informal events • Improved habitats for wildlife
• Project
• 100 information postcards printed / distributed • Better managed public access
management
Partner time • 79 people attended training workshops • New natural heritage volunteers NATURAL
• Partner liaison and
/ expertise x • 66+ hectares improved • New and stronger sector partnerships HERITAGE IS IN
meetings
6 partners • 53 geocachers visited the beck • New interpretation skills BETTER
• Site visits / tours
• 22 volunteers registered for water monitoring • New natural flood management skills CONDITION
• Volunteer
Volunteers • 16km beck benefitted • Increased commitment to natural heritage
recruitment
• 11 Himalayan balsam bashing days • Increased motivation / momentum to STRONGER LOCAL
• Volunteer
6 Natural • 9 locations improved continue INFRASTRUCTURE
management
environment • 9 bird / bat boxes made + installed • Further funding applications in process
• Training
locations • 6 locations improved • Increased opportunity, examples and STRONGER
workshops
• 6 tree clearing + planting days completed evidence for fundraising and advocacy COMMUNITY
• Task days
Machinery, • Fencing, revetments, willow spiling, steps and leaky • People volunteered time
• Water quality
equipment, dams made and installed; litter picked; native flowers • People changed attitudes or behaviour INCREASED
monitoring
materials and trees planted • People have developed skills HEALTH +
• School workshops
• New patches of invasive non-native species identified • New curiosity, knowledge, awareness and WELLBEING
+ lesson plans
Education • Unconfirmed water species / populations verified understanding in children, young people +
• Launch and
resources • 6 land manager partners engaged local public
celebration events
• 4 geo-caches created • Increased passion for/connectivity to
• Interpretation
Trainers • 3 land management plans updated (in progress) natural surroundings
creation
• 3 ten-point plans created for horse riders; urban land • Increased employment + employability
• Public informal
users; and rural land managers • Increased feeling of value
engagement
• 1 project co-ordinator + 1 project trainee recruited • Increased time outdoors
• 2 interpretation boards installed • Increased physical activity
• 1 pop-up sandwich-board created • Increased social activity

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