Conwy project to restore river and wildlife in valley

A crane removes the shingle bank on one side of the river Image copyright Iolo Penri
Image caption The project has involved removing the steep shingle bank on one side of the river

A first-of-its kind river restoration project is aiming to attract more wildlife and decrease flood risk in the Conwy Valley.

The National Trust will make the changes to the landscape around Afon Machno in Cwm Penmachno as part of the Upper Conwy Catchment Project.

It seeks to create cleaner, healthier catchments for wildlife.

The project's flagship farm will also see more trees such as willow and alder being planted along the river.

A central part of the work has been to remove the steep shingle bank on one side of the river. The chosen method, in the end, was a conveyor belt that carried the mounds of material over the water.

Dewi Roberts, who managed the work, said it is the first time they have used this method.

"It's been quite the project, and we think it's one of the first of its kind," he said.

"Because of the time of the year we're spawning fish, we weren't allowed to work in the river - so we used a 40ft conveyor belt to move the shingle from one side of the river to the other.

"We estimated that there was 2,500 tonnes of material on the side of the river, and we managed to move it all in four days."

One of the long term goals of the project at Carrog farm, which belongs to the National Trust, is to restore the site and ensure that it is ideal for trout to flourish.

Large boulders will be introduced to the river during the spring to create the structural diversity that brown trouts need for breeding.

Image copyright Iolo Penri
Image caption A belt carried the debris from one side to the other

It is hoped that this, in turn, will attract birds and creatures such as otters to the valley.

It is also hoped that the slowing the flow of the river by restoring the flood plain will help alleviate flood risks in the towns of the Conwy Valley.

"It's been a huge undertaking over the last few weeks," said Dewi Davies, Upper Conwy catchment project manager with the trust.

"The river work isn't the only story up here in Carrog. We've got the farm itself, which we're trying to farm hand in hand with nature, and will be let later this summer.

"So there'll be someone here who will help us deliver a better offer for nature."

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