European Riverprize for Cumbrian project

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The University of Salford, along with the Environment Agency, Natural England and other partners, have been announced as the winners of the European Riverprize for their efforts across Cumbria to reinstate natural river processes that benefit both people and wildlife.

Across the catchments of the Rivers Eden, Derwent and Kent the Cumbrian River Restoration Strategy has improved almost 100k of river length and restored over 150 hectares of floodplain. It has also reduced flood risk, removed plastic from rivers and boosted biodiversity in the region.

Rivers in the Lake District have been impacted by changing patterns of farming and land management over many centuries. Almost all the watercourses within Cumbria have at some point been modified or altered to principally create space for farming practices and industry. This has exacerbated the effects of several severe flood events in recent years, with the area also suffering degradation of designated protected areas and a severe decline in biodiversity.

Professor Neil Entwistle, from the University of Salford, who was a part of the project, said: “What an honour that years and years of hard work has resulted in this win. It’s a testament to the various partners, volunteers, landowners and the farming community that these combined projects are helping to make Cumbria more resilient to our changing climate.

“It’s a privilege to both win the European Riverprize and to be part of a wonderful, remarkable team of people all of whom are working towards the greater goal of restoring our landscape for future generations.”

The Cumbria River Restoration partnerships programme has carried out more than 100 separate projects including reintroducing meanders, removing weirs and planting trees. Practical work was also accompanied by engagement, training and educational initiatives including community events, volunteer days, internal and external training, conference and workshop presentations.

First awarded in 2013, the European Riverprize celebrates excellence in the management, conservation and development of Europe’s rivers, wetlands and surrounding communities. Historically, the prize is award in conjunction with the European River Symposium, which attracts an audience of Europe’s leading advocates for environment and river protection, including the European Commissioner for Environment.

Olly Southgate, Cumbria River Restoration Programme Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“It’s fantastic to see the work of the Cumbria River Restoration programme being recognised on an international scale. River restoration work can provide a wide range of benefits, creating better natural habitats for wildlife and reducing flood risk through innovative nature-based solutions.

“In an ever-changing climate it’s work like this that will help to improve our environment for generations to come.

“We would like to thank all partners, stakeholders, local communities and private landowners involved in bringing this programme to fruition.”

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