In the past few years flooding, whether from river water, or poor drainage has been incredibly destructive in many Cotswold Water Park communities.
Within the Upper Thames Catchment, The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW), the Cotswold Water Park Trust (CWPT), Gloucestershire Rural Community Council and the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) developed the Cotswold Water Park WILD Project (Water Framework Directive (WFD) with Integrated Local Delivery).
This partnership has been working together to bring about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses of the Cotswold Water Park. The WILD Project has brought local communities and landowners together in understanding and getting involved in the management of local water courses. With local community input it also devised and delivered a plan of enhancements over a three year period. The project was actively supported by Natural England and the Environment Agency, and is part of a wider programme of implementing the catchment-based approach. (See more project information).
Chris Short was the project leader for the CCRI team.
The defined project area centred around the Cotswold Water Park, including an initial 14 parishes and 4 towns and associated water bodies, covering approximately 25,000 hectares. Before the project began, a third of all rivers in the Cotswolds Catchment were rated either as “bad” or “poor” by the Environment Agency. During the past three years (2012 – 2015), the partnership has worked together to improve the ecological status of the water bodies in the Cotswold Water Park. Existing projects were brought together in order to coordinate, deliver and establish new ones in order to reach Good Ecological Status (GES) on priority water bodies within the project area. This was implemented by an inclusive partnership in line with the priorities in the (Draft) Upper Thames Catchment Management Plan (UTCMP) and the Upper Thames Integrated Catchment Programme.
The project also delivered a framework for delivering GES in all water bodies in the project area in the medium (2021) and long (2027) term, working with partners to embed protection of water quality in to local governance to ensure long term sustainability.
Phase 1 of WILD concluded on March 31st 2016 and is now requesting an extension to other water bodies and parishes in the Upper Thames Catchment from 2016 – 2021.
WILD Phase 1 has been very successful, delivering far more than was originally specified in each of the target areas, including WFD objectives. See below for a brief overview. For full information, Download Phase 1 summary of WILD project
Key outcomes from Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) Phase 1 in the Upper Thames Catchment
(download above summary for full information and illustrations)
- Farm Visits – a total of 298 farm visits over 3 years covering 118 farms/estates with advice provided for 22,692 hectares of land impacting on and within the project area. This represents nearly all eligible agricultural land within the project area.
- Appointment of 20 Farmer Guardians covering over 10,000ha of Upper Thames in wider Wild project area. These are key contacts in the discussions between farmers and agencies like the Environment Agency but also Natural England and Thames Water
- Through work with Thames Water 500 farmers are engaged in sustainable pesticide management in the Cole, Ampney Brook, Meysey Brook; Lydiard Brook and Ray
- Many new agreements facilitated under the Countryside Stewardship scheme
- All communities now engaged in integrated water management as part of Parish Planning – 16 parishes and 3 towns engaged in main WILD Project.
- Nearly 60 km of potential river enhancements identified and shared with partners
- A total of 300km ditches surveyed
- 30 km of ditches sympathetically managed
- Shade reduction & tree pollarding works conducted on 8555m
- Large Woody Debris deflectors and fagots installed in 5,580m
- New and improved fencing installed on 2455m
- Five livestock drinking bays installed with modified design to satisfy the EA and farmers
- 2.7 km of river treated for Himalayan balsam infestation
- £242,000 grant funding secured from other partners/ funding bodies that helps deliver the overall WILD project objectives
- 20 Schools engaged in a photographic competition on Water and the production of a 2016 Calendar with wining photos exhibited across Gloucestershire
- Preparation and circulation of ‘A Community Guide to your water environment’. circulated Nationally in collaboration with ACRE and case study on Integrated Planning tool
- Ditch Management Guidelines produced and circulated amongst all members of the Upper Thames Catchment Partnership
- A National Conference on the WILD Project approach
- Over 15 Events held for farmers and Parish Councils
- Working with communities over 1500 issues and opportunities concerning water flow that impact on the water environment have been mapped and digitised
Key achievements of WILD Phase 1
- Demonstrating the value of facilitation and integrated advice with a doubling of initial financial investment by the EA in water improvement across the WILD project area
- Increased awareness of the role and remit of all the organisations involved in managing the water environment as shown by outstanding and growing volunteer contribution
- Clear evidence from the mid-point evaluation interviews of changes in behaviour change amongst the farming community towards WFD and related objectives
- Communities being enabled to proactively work in a coordinated way with statutory bodies on joint problem solving (Community Voice).
- Increased awareness in communities of the roles and responsibilities of riparian owners and working together, supportively towards an agreed outcome, namely WFD
- Enhanced management on the Ampney Brook catchment where the early management work is now recognised as being a significant improvement as identified in the before and after pictures
- Bringing multiple stakeholders together and developing a greater understanding amongst NGOs and agency of the benefits of an integrated approach to deliver at the catchment scale
- Information exchange and development of Farmer Guardians approach for the management of the water environment and associated habitats by the farming community
- Environmental delivery under the project is embedded for long term benefit to enable better environmental quality linked to sustainable growth across the project area
- Demonstration of the benefits of partnership working and valuing the role of all organisations and individuals working together in shared problem solving through the integrated local delivery framework can deliver more than single issue funding
- A project template that is transferable to other areas in terms of enabling delivery for multiple stake holders against their statutory duty, integrated advisory, facilitation and reporting structure
Previous project news
Update: September 2014
CCRI are involved in helping the delivering partners in developing and implementing this innovative project. This is being undertaken by Chris Short and Melissa Affleck. The three parallel aspects of the project, the biodiversity work, farmer advice and community engagement are all well underway and the project has created considerable interest. For more details download the WILD newsletter Download
Update: December 2014
Artitle on the WILD project appeared in Cotswold Life, December 2014 issue Download
Update: March 2015
A new community guide was published by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) entitled ‘A Community Guide to your water environment’. which includes (on page 9) the WILD project as a case study.
Update: Autumn Winter 2015 NewsletterDownload 2015 Autumn/Winter newsletter
13 January 2016
Blog published by Chris Short – Introducing natural flood management: protecting people and enhancing wildlife
25 February 2016
Chris Short presented public lecture (at the University of Gloucestershire) on natural flood management – Letting nature do what nature does