In 2012 members of the CCRI together with 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 Environment Agency (EA) developed the WILD Project, testing a new way of implementing the Water Framework Directive and connecting people with the water environment.

This partnership aimed to bring about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses that find into the Cotswold Water Park by connecting 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 with the support of Natural England and the Environment Agency, and is a case study of the catchment-based approach.

Chris Short has been the project leader for the CCRI throughout the initiative.


WILD – Phase One

The first phase of WILD ran from 2012-2016 and centred around the Cotswold Water Park, including an initial 14 parishes and four towns and associated water bodies, covering approximately 25,000 hectares. At the time, a third of all rivers in the Cotswolds Catchment were rated either as “bad” or “poor” by the Environment Agency. During the three years, the partnership 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 Upper Thames Catchment Management Plan (UTCMP) and the Upper Thames Integrated Catchment Programme.

WILD Volunteers

Phase one of WILD concluded on March 31st 2016, delivering far more than was originally specified in each of the target areas, including WFD objectives. See below for highlights.   

For full information & illustrations: Download Phase 1 summary of WILD project


Key outcomes from Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) Phase 1 in the Upper Thames Catchment

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • £242,000 grant funding secured from other partners/ funding bodies that helps deliver the overall WILD project objectives.
  • Preparation and circulation of  ‘A Community Guide to your water environment’. circulated Nationally in collaboration with ACRE and case study on Integrated Planning tool.


Wild – Phase Two

The second phase of WILD ran commenced in April 2016 and concluded in March 2019. It retained the same partners FWAG SW, CWPT, GRCC and CCRI with funding from EA, Natural England and Thames Water to continue the integrated delivery.  The Upper Thames Farmer Guardians developed into a Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund programme that ran for five years funded by Natural England.  Currently there are close to 100 members covering well over 25,000 hectares.  The aim of Phase Two is to embed the progress from Phase one and to expand the WILD area into carefully selected water bodies that have an impact in the Phase one area.  This will increase the chances that Good Ecological Status in all water bodies in the Phase two project area is possible in the medium (2021) and long (2027) term, through partnership working.  Phase two also focused on embedding water issues within local governance to ensure long term sustainability of the water environment.

One of the main outputs during this time was a film, part funded by the PEGASUS project in November 2017.  The inclusion of WILD as a case study in PEGASUS enabled the framework to be showcased to EU partners and in workshops across Europe.

More recently, The WILD project has also been accepted as a case study in the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) titled ‘Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) for Transformative Change in Socio-Ecological Management’


A range of outputs, materials and other activities have been generated during the two phases of the WILD project. More information and the materials themselves can be found below.