Nebo, Llanrwst, Conwy

Focus Site Event: Sustainable management of natural resources 


Sustainability of our natural resources, especially our rivers and watercourses need our attention and focus to ensure we are being proactive and working together to ensure their sustainable management, to help us with future challenges such as flooding and pollution.


Sustainable management of natural resources

This informative meeting about the sustainable management of our natural resources covered the following issues:

  • Unrestricted access to the river by livestock, leading to compacted and poached soils and resulting in subsequent erosion of banks and sediment deposition.
  • Loss of capital, conservation and biodiversity habitat value of the river and land due to erosion.
  • Water quality - Diffuse pollution and examples of contamination by animal waste, fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Potential Implications for livestock management with regard to welfare issues e.g. lameness, injury and waterborne disease when dealing with the points above.

Intervention that highlight improvements to the riverside included planting trees of varying age to stabilise the river bank and also how fencing off river land to exclude stock stopped water contamination and erosion.


Key messages

Unrestricted access to the river by livestock will lead to compacted and poached soils, which will result in the erosion of the banks and sediment deposition into the watercourse.  Water quality will be affected by the erosion whilst the pollution caused by animal faeces and also fertiliser and pesticide run off, will be another contributing factor to poor water quality, increasing nitrate levels. One way to improve water quality from erosion and livestock pollution; is to fence off areas between the land and the river, to varying widths, to exclude stock, this will not only stop stock accessing the banks and watercourse but will also help create biodiversity of the river bank.

Loss of capital, conservation and biodiversity habitat value of the river and land will also be reduced due to the erosion caused by livestock along the watercourse. A way to counteract this is to carry out tree management to mature trees along the riverside whilst planting new trees and beneficial shrubs, to promote a varied age and structure, the varying root structures will help stabilise the banks and reduce erosion and run, whilst creating conservation and biodiversity opportunities.

If these sustainable management techniques are carried out the farmer will not only see an improvement in the water quality but also in the welfare of their livestock.  Lameness from river stones, injury and waterborne diseases will decline.

By carrying out these measures upstream, flood risk and prevention could benefit the communities downstream.

The Welsh government targets for reducing carbon emissions by 80% within agriculture by 2050 which means tree planting will be high on the agenda, which will benefit Wales watercourses.

The discussion identified a common goal between farmers and local groups and gave them the platform to form collaboration with clear and transparent decision making. 


Take away message

Farmers need to think about how their livestock are affecting the water quality and lives of those downstream. By fencing and tree planting whilst working with local groups knowledge and innovation can be shared and our river protected for the future.

With thanks to our keynote speaker – Tim Pagella and Farming Connect host, Geraint Jones.

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