The National Trust Upper Bure Riverlands Project

This year’s UCL Pond Restoration Week is being funded by the NT Upper Bure Riverlands Project, which provides a significant contribution to our BIG 50 target. The wider Riverlands project is run at a national level and is explained below.

Only 17% of England’s rivers are in good health, as intensive agriculture, development pressures and the effects of climate change take their toll, and 13% of freshwater and wetland species are now threatened with extinction from Britain. As proven elsewhere, solving this problem requires a catchment-scale approach with people and organisations working in partnership.

Our vision is for healthy rivers and catchments, rich in wildlife, enjoyed and cared for by all.

Riverlands is a programme of work led by a national partnership of the National Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, and will take place in four catchments in England and Wales:
The Upper Bure (Norfolk), The Derwent (Cumbria), Porlock Vale streams (Somerset), The Bollin (Cheshire) and The Conwy (Wales)

The Bure (photo credit: Murray Thompson)

The programme has three main aims:

1. Rivers and catchments that are healthy, clean and rich in wildlife

  • Improved water quality and habitat diversity
  • Key species recovery in progress
  • Increased area of valuable habitat

2. Rivers and catchments that are easily accessed, valued and loved for their heritage and beauty

  • More people are able to access and enjoy rivers and the surrounding area
  • More people understand and are inspired by the role rivers play in their lives – past, present and future
  • More people have the opportunity to make a difference to the long term care of rivers and catchments

3. Sustainable long term care for river catchments that has a national impact

  • Better informed and shared land management practices at a catchment scale that benefit nature
  • Better management of flood risk
  • Improved approach to working in partnership to deliver long term care
  • Communities are empowered to take greater ownership of the long term care of the catchments

Riverlands covers the rivers themselves, the land that drains into them, and the species and habitats that exist within the catchments. It will also focus on the cultural heritage of the river catchments, including the ties that have bound people to the rivers in the past, the way that people’s lives have been influenced by the rivers and the surrounding land, and the traditions that have arisen in relation to the rivers.

Our approach, which we have proved elsewhere, is to start by connecting people to the river: as neighbours, users, visitors or landowners. Through this we will find partners, advocates and supporters and from there will flow land use change and local ownership.

As with protecting our coastline, this is a long term enterprise that will require many partners and a steadiness of purpose over a long time period. It is a key part of delivering the National Trusts vision for a healthy and beautiful natural environment.

In total the Riverlands catchments cover 1,406km2 of land and 1,074km of river. A variety of landscapes are represented: upland and lowland, urban and rural, well-visited and off the beaten track. Half a million people live within the catchments, and 6 million live within 10 miles.

The programme will start in 2018 and this first phase will complete in 2024.