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Celebrating our 10th anniversary

Formed by passionate river folk in 2011, as a direct response to the degradation of Norfolk’s globally-rare and important chalk streams, NRT has delivered numerous river and land projects over the past 10 years.

Norfolk’s rivers are facing many challenges including water pollution, over-abstraction and physical modification, and we’ve been working hard to reverse the decline of their decline by:

  • restoring rivers to a natural, self-regulating system;
  • improving water management and quality;
  • enhancing and creating riparian habitats

This work has only been possible with the provision of funding from a diverse range of sources including the Environment Agency, Defra, Anglian Water, the European Union, private corporations and NGOs.

A few highlights

NRT kicked things off with the restoration of a section of the river Nar in 2012, in partnership with and funded by WWF-UK, creating a new sinuous channel at Mileham and installing 42 gravel ‘riffles’ to improve habitat for invertebrates and provide spawning grounds for fish at Castle Acre.

Then followed the delivery of ‘Nine Chalk Rivers’, a conservation and community engagement programme between various organisations including the Norfolk Coast Partnership. This led to the restoration of a 1.2 km stretch of the river Glaven at Bayfield in 2014. The river’s natural course had been altered to bypass a lake by enclosing it in a long brick tunnel. The new channel brought the river back to the surface, creating a new meandering stretch that reconnected the Glaven with its floodplain. This restoration work provided a rich and complex habitat for an array of biodiversity – particularly those associated with rare chalk streams including white-clawed crayfish and brown trout.

Another highlight was the construction of Ingoldisthorpe wetland in 2018, providing a natural, low-cost and sustainable water treatment method for over a million litres of Water Recycling Centre (WRC) effluent per day. The site demonstrated how wetland habitats can both improve water management and deliver a valuable habitat for a diverse variety of wildlife.

Partnership work with farmers, landowners and businesses has been key to the successful completion of many of the trust’s projects. For example, our ‘Water Sensitive Farming’ initiative, established in 2012, works closely with farmers to develop flexible and targeted management interventions that benefit soil and water, as well as farm business resilience, biodiversity and carbon capture. Through the initiative, we’ve conducted one-to-one farm visits with over 250 individual sites, installing over 100 practical on-farm interventions and replenishing over 2.5 billion litres of water to the environment – funded through the WWF and Coca-Cola Freshwater Partnership and Courtauld 2030 Commitment.

What’s next?

NRT recognises the importance of connecting people with their local water environment. Ursula Juta, our Catchment and Education Manager, explains:

“It’s key that we celebrate the value of our rivers with people of all ages and backgrounds to foster good water stewards in the future, monitor river health and inspire individual action. As such, we’ve worked with over 1400 school children, provided many work experience placements, and hosted approximately 200 outreach events.”

A long-standing ambition has been recently fulfilled with the reintroduction of two native Eurasian beavers to the headwaters of a river in North Norfolk to create new wetland habitats, improve water quality, increase water storage and reduce flood risk.

These are just some of the things that the Trust has achieved over the past decade, but David Diggens, our Chief Executive Officer, reveals that the trust will not rest on its laurels:

“We’re delighted with all that the trust has achieved since its humble beginnings, having significantly grown in size and reputation, and recognise that this could not have been possible without the dedicated support of our team, trustees, volunteers and partner organisations.

Looking ahead, we’ve got an ambitious programme of work to deliver including the restoration of the Hun and Stiffkey river catchments, funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and in partnership with the Norfolk Coast Partnership, along with the ‘Wendling Beck Exemplar Project’ -the transformation of over 2000 acres of farmland near Dereham through river restoration, regenerative agriculture, grassland and wetland creation in partnership with several organisations including Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk FWAG and Norfolk County Council.

NRT will also be reaching out to additional farmers through our Water Sensitive Farming initiative to share best practice, mitigate the impacts of the climate emergency and restore meadows and wildflower habitats. We’ll continue to seek innovative solutions to man-made problems, exploring the application of an “environmental impact bond” to reduce phosphates and other pollutants entering the River Stiffkey, while generating revenue in the form of “phosphate credits”. We’ll also continue the battle to protect white-clawed crayfish by chairing the Norfolk Crayfish Group and working with Banham Zoo to rear and release this native and extremely threatened species.”

Play a part in our next chapter

To support the NRT charity, our business arm ‘Norfolk Rivers Ecology’ re-invests funds from the commercial and conservation projects its specialist ecologists and experienced planners deliver. More information can be found here.

In just 10 years, the trust has come a long way…from humble beginnings in the living room of a founding member to the present – celebrating our achievements to date and looking ahead to the next 10 years of river conservation.

If you would like to support us in our work going forwards, you can donate here.

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