Just 6 years ago we started working on the Love Your Lakes campaign...
Working in partnership with the Environment Agency and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through Bassenthwaite Reflections, the “Love Your Lakes” project aimed to reduce the level of pollution in the catchment by encouraging local people, tourists and businesses to be more aware of what goes down the drain! By providing information, education and resources, the objective of the campaign was to influence a reduction in harmful phosphates, found in cleaning products, which upset the delicate ecological balance of the lakes.
And you may remember us talking about the water quality in Bassenthwaite in the news last year...
Corregonus vandesius , or vendace, is Britain’s rarest fish having only ever occurred in four sites in Britain – Derwent and Bassenthwaite here in Cumbria, and in two lochs in Scotland. The vendace loves cold water, and so is quite particular about where it lives, choosing only the deepest lakes where it can avoid the warm surface water.
Unfortunately the vendace died out from Scottish lochs a few decades ago, and was declared extinct in Bassenthwaite in 2008. Their decline in Bassenthwaite was attributed to the degradation of their habitat from increased sediment and phosphate in the water.
But in Spetember 2014, Dr Ian Winfield from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster found two adult vendace in Bassenthwaite, and located a much larger population at the bottom of the lake using echo-sounding. This is a great success story for the restoration and conservation projects that took place in Bassenthwaite, including treatment plant works by United Utilities and the actions of individuals and businesses as part of Bassenthwaite Reflections.
“The projects helped to remove phosphate from the water which has made the lake more attractive to vendace”, says Dr Winfield.
The announcement came as a poignant counterpoint to the news from WWF and London Zoo in the same week that half of all wildlife across the world has been lost in the last 40 years as a result of human pressure. The vendace come-back story shows that it is possible to buck the trend and that, with some hard work, businesses and communities can play a visible role in improving the health of our wildlife.