The Norfolk Rivers Trust was established in 2011 with the objective of conserving and restoring Norfolk rivers and wetland habitats.

The trust is run by a committee of trustees with a broad range of expertise in river habitat conservation, land management and conservation, charitable trust, legal and business administration, compliance and accountancy.

We’re delighted to present our new film about Norfolk’s chalk streams, narrated by the marvellous Stephen Fry.

And also pleased to share our Glaven Eel project film!


Name: Norfolk Rivers Trust (NRT)

Mission: Norfolk Rivers Trust’s mission is to enhance the value of the aquatic landscape through encouraging natural processes, with benefits for wildlife and people.


Chalk rivers are a unique, rare and threatened ecosystem. They support a characteristic community of plants and invertebrates. Animal species of high conservation concern include brown trout, sea trout, brook lamprey, eels, water vole and otter. Hitherto, the biodiversity and ecological function of chalk rivers has suffered due to the effects of intensive farming, particularly in the post-war drive for increased food production. These impacts include widening, straightening and dredging of channels for drainage, causing a reduction of habitat diversity and quality.

Pollution from phosphates and nitrates together with excessive amounts of fine sediments also damage water courses. Abstraction of water has reduced flows in summer causing increases in water temperature and reductions in oxygen levels with knock-on effects on living conditions for plants and animals. European legislation, The Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000), created the obligation for member states to address this imbalance and provides the funding to do it. In addition to conserving valuable components of our biodiversity, the sustained function of chalk river systems is critical to provide water for drinking and crop irrigation in the region. In this sense the water and biodiversity resources belong to every citizen.

Norfolk is among the driest counties in UK, the most important for arable farming (cereals and vegetables) and with the most rapidly eroding coastline. Against a background of climate change set to bring the extremes of flood and drought more frequently, meeting the challenges of active management of natural resources is vital. Rivers are ribbons that weave across the landscape. If they and their surrounds are healthy, they can act as wildlife corridors, connecting habitat islands within intensively farmed regions. They are particularly important in the context of coastal management planning – with Norfolk set to experience increased coastal flooding within our lifetimes. A strength of the NRT concept is that conservation action across 11 separate chalk rivers brings the advantage that populations of rare and threatened species in one system are less vulnerable to processes occurring in the others. By linking conservation with water resource management, this is a truly landscape scale initiative.


  • Habitat improvement in and beside rivers
  • Support for farmers to adopt measures to sustain water resources
  • Community participation – forging catchment conservation groups linking farmers, landowners, anglers and the community
  • Education and PR
  • Research and monitoring to ensure effectiveness
  • Funds from many sources, mainly from government grants

Who with?

The conservation challenge spans many disciplines including ecology, engineering, agriculture, politics, geography and law. A key principal of the UK implementation of the Water Framework Directive is that it should be by consent. In light of this we seek to work in partnership with a wide range of government and non-government bodies, collaborating with farmers, landowners and the public. Partners include the Environment Agency, Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board, Natural England, The Wild Trout Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norfolk Coast Partnership.