August 26, 2008

Nature and Pollution

IT'S NOT just people who have benefited from the environmental improvements around the town.

Clean-ups have resulted in purer water, which has, in turn, encouraged more water voles to move in.

The rare riverside rodents - Britain's fastest declining mammal - are an excellent way to gauge how clean a river is, say experts.

During a clean-up at Ormesby Beck, which the report highlights as major step forward, wildlife officer Kenny Crook said: "Water voles have died out in 90% of their habitats across the country.

"The fact that they are breeding in Middlesbrough's becks is brilliant news. It shows they have good bio-diversity and that there are low levels of pollution."

Everything from old microwave ovens to bikes were pulled from the stream by a group of 26 volunteers in a joint operation between the Environment Agency, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and Middlesbrough Council.

Craig McGarvey, Environment Agency area manager, said: "We managed to pull so much out of the beck and this highlights the real issue of waste in the becks.

"Rubbish found in the becks is the biggest cause of flooding as it can create obstructions and block water flow."

Following the clean-up, the waterway has become a huge outdoors classroom - kids from Park End Primary were among those to make use of it last summer.

The number of Salmon in the Tees Estuary, another indicator of water quality, is also up, the Environment Agency has discovered.

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