We live in uncertain times and the global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change loom over us, but I am starting 2022 full of hope. River health has never been so high on the political agenda and I have never known so many different sectors as resolute in their ambition to restore our environment to good health as they are now.
I’m particularly excited that 2022 will see our Catchment Monitoring Co-operative spring into action, demonstrating how a solid evidence base can drive consensus, coherent planning and investment in delivery. The Rivers Trust will also be seeking up to £10m in funding this year to support a similarly strategic demonstration programme of investment in nature-based solutions from 2023 onwards. Our Riverscapes partnership with the National Trust and Woodland Trust has begun work supporting the planting of 3,150 hectares of trees alongside rivers throughout England, building resilience to climate change and biodiversity loss. We are also continuing to deliver innovative green finance projects which are exciting candidates to scale up throughout the UK and Ireland.
All very exciting. However, several recent media stories have picked up on on the impossible position of our environmental regulator in recent weeks after the Environment Agency made it clear that it does not have the resources even to investigate minor pollution incidents. We need this spotlight on its failings to lead to a reversal of the last decade’s cuts to the Agency’s funding and independence. We work very closely with EA staff, most of whom are as passionate and committed to the environment as any of us. They need the funding and freedom to do their job properly, otherwise all the good work we do in the Rivers Trust movement could be undone by unchecked pollution.
Woodlands for Water
Woodlands for Water is the first project developed by the Riverscapes partnership which aims to create 3,150 hectares of trees in six river catchment areas from Devon to Cumbria by March 2025.
Mark is our Chief Executive Officer, responsible for overseeing our direction and strategy. He joined The Rivers Trust in 2019 after 10 years as Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, where he played a transformational role representing the UK’s three million anglers and taking legal action against polluters. Much of that work was focussed on protecting water quality, a subject close to Mark’s heart. Prior to that, Mark was Chief Executive of Thames21, one the Rivers Trust’s current members. He therefore is deeply familiar with the culture, challenges and opportunities of the Rivers Trust movement.