Bugs and bees are among the wildlife to benefit from improvements to habitats in the North East being carried out using Northumbrian Water grants.
Picture shows (left to right) volunteers Alan Nicholls, Jack Pressdee, Doug Davison and Geoff King, treating giant hogweed on the River Tees.
The company’s Branch Out initiative supports projects to revitalise habitats for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Approximately £80,000 in grants is awarded each year to projects across Northumbrian Water′s operational areas in the North-East and Essex and Suffolk region.
On Teesside, £3,261 of Branch Out funding has been provided to the Tees Rivers Trust’s Alien Invaders 2016 programme, which has been established to remove giant hogweed and other non-native species from the banks of the River Tees.
The Alien Invaders programme is using the money, as part of a £75,000 programme, to remove Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam from stretches of the Tees from the estuary to Middleton- in-Teesdale.
The Trust is also monitoring the Tees Estuary for Chinese Mitten Crabs, which come into the country among ballast on ships. Identifiable simply by being the only freshwater crabs in the area, they have already been found in the Tyne.
John Musham, of the Tees River Trust, said: "Support from Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund is vital in helping us to work along the length of the Tees to eradicate these alien species. Alien Invaders is all about protecting the indigenous habitat that makes the River Tees and its banks so special."
In Sunderland and South Tyneside, Buglife‘s B-Lines Project has carried out habitat restoration on 12 local wildlife sites and two sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), as well as restored or created wildflower-rich grassland on a further eight sites, thanks to support from Branch Out. It is hoped that a new phase of the project, focused in the Newcastle area, may be launched later this year. More information is available at www.buglife.org.uk/b-lines.
A large number of existing programmes continue to benefit from previous years’ Branch Out funding, supporting habitats across the North-East and a total of £185,586 of grant funding has been delivered across the region prior to 2016.
Stuart Pudney, Northumbrian Water’s conservation team leader, said: "Branch Out is a great way of supporting some amazing projects across the North East to improve and reconnect habitats, engage with local communities and allow wildlife to thrive.
"The Alien Invaders and Buglife projects are fantastic examples of the type of work that can be done, and we are proud to be able to assist with this funding.
"Through our employee volunteering scheme, we also encourage and enable Northumbrian Water staff to get involved where applicants require manpower to help with their projects."
Applications for Branch Out funding are reviewed on a biannual basis and are open until August 31, 2016 and an application form is available to download, along with guidance on eligibility, from www.nwl.co.uk.