Winners of the 2018 Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards

Around 100 people gathered in the ballroom of the Savile Club in London to celebrate the tremendous contributions of individuals and groups to improving river habitat. It is always an uplifting experience to see the dedication, determination and expertise that is demonstrated in the projects competing for the annual Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards. 

The awards are judged by Dr Paul Gaskell and Shaun Leonard of the Wild Trout Trust and Martin Jaynes of the River Restoration Centre.

Paul Gaskell said:

It was a privilege to be introduced to these works – and thank you for the inspiration that the efforts and results create in our community of river-protectors and helpers.’

The winners of this year’s awards are:

WINNER, Contribution to Wild Trout Conservation Award:
The River Lark Catchment Partnership for the Bell Meadow Project, Suffolk.

Suffolk is not known for its wild trout population, but they are present in the Lark. The River Lark Catchment Partnership have done a superb job at both a catchment and a reach scale to ensure that the trout and the food webs that support them thrive in the River Lark.

Lark Glenn Smithson
Glenn Smithson recieves the award for the Lark team

WINNER, Medium-Scale Habitat Enhancement Scheme:
The Bristol Avon Rivers Trust for the Wellow and Cam Initiative, Somerset.

This initiative was launched in response to a major pollution incident, described as a tsunami of slurry’. It combines technical monitoring with citizen science and early warning’ beacon initiatives, barrier assessment, removal/​alteration of six weirs, interactive river sessions for public engagement, yellow fish’ surface drainage protection involving 250 people, formal identification of challenges and opportunities, creation of a dedicated friends-of group, clear future management and much, much. A worthy winner in a highly competitive field.

(No photo as the team were unable to attend due to rail issues)

WINNER, Large-Scale Habitat Enhancement Scheme:

West Cumbria Rivers Trust and their partners (Environment Agency, Natural England, the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund, and James Fisher Nuclear) for the Ennerdale Mill Dam Project, Cumbria.

This ambitious project re-connects the river with Ennerdale Water, delivering benefits for wild fish and freshwater mussels as well as tackling invasive Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed. The WCRT and partners overcame significant challenges to remove the mill dam rather than take the easier option of building a fish pass. Removing the impoundment has facilitated both upstream and downstream fish movement and restored a natural sediment transport régime to the river.

Ennerdale Jodie Mills
Jodie Mills receives the award for the West Cumbria Rivers Trust and partners

Judges’ Commendation: Westcountry Rivers Trust FishPass App.

As an innovative way to support, monitor and adapt the programme of habitat works carried out on the Westcountry Passport streams, the development and initial launch of this app is already achieving valuable wins’ for conservation. Citizen science and engagement are embedded within the day-to-day use of this platform and the strategic (ongoing) development and method selection provide an interesting perspective and possible inspiration for how in-channel restoration schemes can be designed. Wild fish populations are at the core of the angling amenity which drives the many initiatives of the Westcountry Rivers Trust.

Westcountry Rt Bruno Vincent
Bruno Vincent recieves the award for the Westcountry Rivers Trust

Shortlisted Projects

As with all years of the WTT Conservation Awards (and listed alphabetically for fairness) it is crucial to recognise and be inspired by each and every one of the shortlisted projects in 2018:

Brancepeth Beck: Environment Agency

A serious contender for a prize this year, tackling connectivity on the River Wear catchment. This project included (among many things) volunteer inputs to the design and installation of structures that now aid fish passage in the face of multiple significant barriers to migration.

Chisenbury Tank Crossing A’ Project:

Part of the strategic restoration of the River Avon, this project redresses the extensive modification (and associated incision) of the channel to reinstate more diverse and ecologically valuable geomorphology. Putting the river into a new course and reconnecting it with its floodplain has created multiple beneficial effects.

Killandean Blue/​Green Network: Riverlife”/Forth Rivers Trust

Combining in-channel works and riparian environmental/​social space improvements, the Forth Rivers Trust are doing a fantastic job in re-connecting the public with their local watercourse. That society needs to care for the river corridors running through communities is in no doubt. This project is a timely reminder that river corridors also provide huge welfare benefits to people who spend time in them.

Lower Misbourne Enhancement Project: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

A kilometre of canopy management and creation of more varied in-channel (and riparian) habitat using the arising materials targeted threatened water vole populations and aimed to improve conditions for wild trout and a host of other river-corridor wildlife. Volunteers and multiple in-kind contributions from a range of partnering organisations brought this project to life.

Watercourses Project (Chalgrove Brook): Watlington Environmental Group

The Chalgrove Brook is believed to be the only Thame tributary that now retains a population of wild trout. One long-time, local resident within the travelling community was moved to tears by the recollection of the previous state of the stream’s abundant wild fish.