Awards flood in for Wildlife Trust wetland projects

Awards flood in for Wildlife Trust wetland projects

The UK River prize celebrates the projects improving our waterways.

Amazing wetlands

Water and wetlands are a vital part of our natural world –animals, plants and people depend on them for their survival. Healthy wetlands and rivers can provide communities with protection from flooding by holding water in the landscape and slowing the flow of water to the sea. They even save us money by naturally filtering the impurities from our drinking water.

Wetlands are also hugely important for wildlife. However, the State of Nature report found that 13% of freshwater and wetland species are threatened with extinction in the UK. In fact, we’ve lost 90% of this incredible habitat in the last 100 years.

The reasons for this dramatic decline include pollution from the surrounding landscape, largely from unsustainable farming and development practices, physical changes to the ecosystem, and the removal of water. Clearly, our wetlands are in trouble!

Matthew Roberts

(C) Matthew Roberts

Turning the tide

There is hope for our rivers and wetlands. Across the UK, Wildlife Trusts work with countless partners to improve waterways for wildlife and people. We advise on, support and directly manage 19,000km of watercourse, using natural solutions to meet critical issues like flood risk, drought management and water purification. We restore habitats, providing wildlife-rich places to hold water in the landscape, and even reintroduce wetland species like water voles and beavers.

Each year, The UK River Prize celebrates the wonderful work done by individuals and organisations to improve the UK’s rivers. This year, Wildlife Trusts are involved with three of the four projects that were shortlisted for the prestigious prize, each of which reached the final by winning their individual category.

The Hills to Levels project, in which Somerset Wildlife Trust is a partner, was announced as the overall winner at the annual UK River Prize Awards Dinner on 24th April.


The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP)

Winner: ‘Multiple Benefit Partnership’ category

Involving 23 partner organisations, led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the TVWLP has the vision of creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. HLF funding has allowed this project to work towards the restoration of the fragmented and degraded landscape of the Tame Valley: river restoration is creating better habitats for fish and freshwater invertebrates, flood risk is reduced as floodplains are reconnected and new wetlands created, and communities are reconnected to their natural environment.

Over the last four years, the partnership has improved almost 2,000 metres of watercourse, created or restored 35 hectares of wetland habitat and designated three areas as Local Wildlife Sites. By enhancing the Tame Valley Wetlands for wildlife and people, they’ve generated huge investments in the area and engaged with thousands of people about the wonders of our wild wetlands.


Love Your River Telford

Winner: ‘Innovation’ category

There are eight waterbodies in Telford, all failing to meet water quality standards. Love Your River Telford, in which Shropshire Wildlife Trust is a partner, has trained and inspired the local community to spot and report water pollution. Schoolchildren have become River Rangers, passionate and protective about their local rivers, and adults can volunteer for the Love Your River group, using their new training to monitor the health of their own patch.

Habitat restoration and creation is transforming the polluted waterways, using nature to improve water quality and flood management, producing new wetlands and wet woodlands. Six of the eight waterbodies have already improved, with huge benefits for people and the environment, and the project has plenty more to give. Snaking through an old brickworks, The Serpentine stream is a lifeless ooze of clay-clogged orange, but Love Your River Telford plans to bring it back to life by restoring its ailing reedbed.

Blanket bog

Hills to Levels

Winner: ‘Catchment-scale project’ and 2018 UK River Prize

A partnership of Somerset farming and nature charities, including Somerset Wildlife Trust, this project helps landowners and farmers to manage their land in a way that reduces flood risk, enhances the land for wildlife and produces high-quality food. Hills to Levels seeks to slow the flow in the Upper Catchment area, make the Lower Catchment more resilient, raise awareness of water management issues and bring landowners and the community closer together. 

As a key partner, Somerset Wildlife Trust have helped make farms more resilient to flooding and engaged local communities about the management of Somerset’s river catchments. Through events, workshops and site visits, students and school groups discovered the challenges of water management and the importance of wetland habitats. 


Get involved

Now is a crucial time for wildlife. In an unprecedented move, the government is asking the public what they think about the future of national farming policy and planning policy at the same time. These vital issues will shape the future of our landscape, including our rivers and waterways. 

Help us stand up for wildlife and have your say by responding to the two consultations – you’ll find advice on how to respond on our #ActSwiftly website. But hurry, the consultations close on the 8th of May (farming) and 10th of May (planning)!