Britains trout population on a knife edge as weeks of dry weather

first_imgArable farmers are particularly struggling, with crop producers describing the combination of the dry patch with cold weather the “worst of all possible worlds”.Jack Ward, Chief Executive of the British Growers Association, said: “It is getting concerning to have this amount of dry with this amount of cold. The warning came as the Environment Agency revealed four out of five rivers are at “abnormally low” levels for the time of year.Many, including in what is usually the wettest inhabited spot in England, Seathwaite in Cumbria, have been left “bone dry”.“Rivers are at extremely low levels at the moment and that has a big impact for brown trout – they’re not doing well,” said Kathy Hughes, a freshwater specialist at WWF. “Then a drought comes along and it just knocks them out.” A reservoir near Tring on the border Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire on Monday A reservoir near Tring on the border Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire on MondayCredit:SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY “Things just don’t grow. The longer seeds sit there in the ground without growing, the greater the chance of something going wrong.He said that without prolonged rain, the success of crops such as fresh peas, which are grown on a large scale making them difficult to irrigate, would be under threat this summer.However, strawberries and other summer fruits, which tend to be grown under polythene tunnels with irrigation systems, are likely to benefit from the dry conditions, according to s spokesman for producers.Guy Smith, Vice President of the National Farmers Union said: “The situation is patchy with farmers, particularly in the South and East, reporting as low as 10% of their expected March and April rainfall.“While decent rains in May and June will put many crops back on track, some crops like spring barley have clearly already lost their full potential.” It has a big impact for brown trout – they’re not doing wellKathy Hughes, a freshwater specialist at WWF Elsewhere, firefighters tackled a blaze at a thatched cottageCredit:Solent News & Photo Agency Britain’s trout population is “on a knife edge” as weeks of dry weather drains rivers to historic low levels, environmentalists have warned.The species was already faring badly due to the poor state of many UK rivers, but the driest winter and early spring in 20 years now threatens to devastate numbers across the country.The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) said parched rivers also pose a danger to other much-loved wildlife, including kingfishers, wading birds and water voles. Data from 2016 showed just 14 per cent of rivers in the UK are considered healthy, and surveys have revealed that trout are currently found in fewer than 40 per cent of the chalk rivers they would be expected to inhabit. The lack of rain has raised fears of a drought.Last week homeowners were warned to cut back on the amount of water they consume by only using their dishwashers and washing machines when fully loaded.Meanwhile firefighters reported battling more than 500 gorse fires in a single week, many of them started deliberately by made harder to control by the dry conditions. Elsewhere, firefighters tackled a blaze at a thatched cottage Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more