Hertfordshire's Living Rivers Network

by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in St Albans, England, United Kingdom

Hertfordshire's Living Rivers Network

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£800,000 target 304 days left
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Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 31st March 2025 at 12:00pm

To restore and protect Hertfordshire’s rare chalk rivers and the wildlife they support on a landscape scale.

by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in St Albans, England, United Kingdom

We have a national and international responsibility for protecting our rare and special chalk rivers, which have a unique ecology due to their clean, mineral-rich water and consistent flows, supporting an abundance of wildlife. A high proportion of the world's global numbers of chalk streams can be found in the South-East of England, specifically in Hertfordshire. (Hertfordshire State of Nature Report, 2020).

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Our project will restore chalk rivers and associated wetland habitats across Hertfordshire, halting the decline of over 109 different species including water voles (the UK fastest declining mammal). Our project objectives are to:

  • Create more joined-up space for nature benefitting wildlife across the entire River Lea Catchment (1000km²), directly restoring sections of river corridor and create wildlife-rich wetland habitat.
  • Improve the ability of the river catchment to adapt to climate change by providing natural flood management measures and provide corridors for wildlife to move to respond to changing environmental conditions.
  • Engage and empower local people to take positive action for wildlife at the local level, connecting people with nature.
  • Support volunteers to carry out wildlife surveying, habitat restoration and community engagement work, improving their skills and wellbeing.
  • Support green jobs and contribute to contractor costs, boosting the economy.
  • Carry out a wide-spread programme of species monitoring, supported by volunteers, project staff and specialist consultants.

Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) has prepared an ambitious programme of capital work and invasive species interventions that will deliver meaningful habitat improvements across the whole river catchment that are ‘ready to go’. These will be delivered by specialist contractors overseen by our project team: Living Rivers Coordinator, Invasive Non-Native Species Officer and Admin Assistant, supported by volunteers. To complement the capital river and habitat restoration works, we will employ a Wilder Communities Officer to engage residents local to our project sites, raising awareness and empowering people to take action themselves to improve species abundance. 

Our specific project locations have been selected through consideration of a combination of factors including habitat connections, current condition of wildlife, risk of further deterioration and the opportunity to improve species abundance. Each location contains a Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and we have consulted data reports from Herts Environmental Records Centre (HERC) about the condition of these LWS to help inform our project work – all have declining biodiversity.

We have comprehensive experience in this area, having delivered our Living Rivers Programme for over 12 years. The programme is a core part of delivering our 30 by 30 strategy – where we are aiming to influence at least 30% of land to be wilder and managed for nature by 2030. In the last 12 years of Living Rivers we have:

  • Completed 26 river restoration projects.
  • Created 1,238ha wetland habitat.
  • Put 65km of rivers under improvement.
  • 700km of riverbank controlled for non-native invasive species.
  • Removed or mitigated 78 physical barriers to fish migration and wildlife movement.
  • Trained 400 volunteers.
  • Involved 63,390 volunteers and citizen scientists.
  • Connected/engaged 15,265 people with wildlife.
  • Educated 450 children.

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We have spent years working with over 350 stakeholders to build the necessary relationships to get the river and restoration works in this project ready for delivery. This, combined with our specialist skills and comprehensive experience, means our project will be hugely successful in created wildlife-rich riparian habitats and improving species abundance.

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