East Mercia Rivers Trust formation
Spanning several counties in the Midlands, two Rivers Trusts are combining their teams and expertise to form the East Mercia Rivers Trust.
Situated in rural parts of the Midlands, both the Lincolnshire and Welland Rivers Trusts work amongst beautiful rivers and stunning landscapes. Established with the aim of protecting rivers and their related habitats by restoring water quality, engaging with local communities, and campaigning for healthier waterways, both Trusts have implemented ambitious projects to meet this goal.
One such Lincolnshire Rivers Trust project saw the Upper Cringle Brook receive a magnificent makeover. A 12km, spring-fed limestone beck, Upper Cringle Brook is a tributary of the river Witham and due to historical straightening and deepening, the upper sections had lower habitat diversity. In conjunction with the landowner, contractors, and ecologists, a project to revitalise this area was delivered. With the permission of the landowner, Easton Estates, a one kilometer stretch between Skellington and Stoke Rochford was rejuvenated by reconnecting the floodplain, installing back channels and creating a 1.7km wildflower area with trees.
The Welland Rivers Trust recently revived the river Gwash and Welland confluence on land owned by Burghley House Estates. With funding from the Environment Agency, The Wild Trout Trust, and South Kesteven District council, the Welland Rivers Trust reinstated an old channel, excavated ponds, dips and scrapes to create a diverse matrix of wetter and drier areas, maximising the benefit to biodiversity. A section was planted up with a variety of wet woodland tree species such as black poplar Populus nigra, aspen Populus tremula, white elm Ulmus laevis and alder Alnus glutinosa. Wet woodland is one of our richest native habitats but is particularly rare in the Welland Valley.
Individually, both the Lincolnshire and Welland Rivers Trusts have undertaken significant work on the critical upper sections of the both the river Witham and Welland and have extensive experience reconnecting people with nature, through volunteer and educational activities.
They are now coming together, merging, to create the East Mercia Rivers Trust. By combining their extensive expertise and experience, they will extend their ability to fight for our rivers. The new Trust will work within the catchment boundaries of the rivers Welland and Witham, spanning across five counties and encompassing over 120 watercourses, including the main tributaries of the river Welland, the rivers Glen, Gwash, Chater and the Eye Brook and the Witham, the rivers Slea, Bain, Till and Barlings Eau.
Andrew Morriss, chair of the new East Mercia Rivers Trust, expressed his optimism about the timing of this union, “The pooling of skills and knowledge will open opportunities for us to increase our impact at a time when the current economic situation is particularly testing. The Welland Valley Partnership and Witham Catchment Partnership will retain their independence, but this merger will foster greater collaboration between the catchment partners to accelerate activities on the ground.”
The retiring Chair of Welland Rivers Trust Ramsay Ross added, “There is no river in England that is classed as being in good health. We urgently need to improve and secure the future of our rivers. Organisational stability and growth are critical to foster that.”
Executive Director of East Mercia Rivers Trust Rachel Butler, commented on the significance of the merger, “The river catchments of the Welland and Witham are both rural in nature and face similar challenges from pollution, over abstraction and historical straightening and deepening. The merger will allow us to not only build on, but ramp up, the activities of the merging trusts supporting and inspiring local communities, businesses, and landowners to appreciate and improve their local watercourses.”
We are excited to follow their progress and watch the positive impact that they will undoubtedly have on our rivers, wildlife, and local people. You can keep up to date with their work by following them across social media @EastMerciaRT.