Cumbria Rivers win 2022 European River Prize

Improving water quality and restoring natural systems

· Borrowdale,Environment,Conservation

The Cumbria Rivers in the Lake District National Park has recently been recognized for its excellence in managment, conservation and development by winning the prestigious 2022 European River Prize. This is a testament to the hard work and decication of the Cumbria River Restoration partnerships programme, which has been working tirelessly to improve the quality of the rivers in the Lake District.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District is known for its outstanding unversial value, including its beautiful rivers. The rivers of the Lake District from an intregral component of the area's beauty, but for many centuries, these rivers have been shaped by upland farming and intensive dairy agriculture. This human intervention has had a negative impact on the rivers, with many of them now suffering from poor water quality.

Person in a kyak and and a traveling through floodwaters on the B5289 in 2017. Picture by Peter Knowles

Recent severe flood events have also been exacerbated by the mismanagement of the watercources, resulting in damage to desgnated protected areas and a decline in biodiversity.

The Cumbria River Restoration partnerships programme has been working hard to address these issues by undertaking over 100 projects to improve the rivers and their associated floodplains. Statistics from 31 of the largest restoration projects show that nearly 100 km of river length have been improved and almost 150 ha of floodplain have been restored. The programme has also focused on rejuvenatiing the natural systems dynamics and re-naturalizing tributaries that flow into the main rivers.

The European River Prize, first awrded in 2013, celebrates excellence in management, conservation, and development of Europe's rivers, wetlands, and surrounding communities. The prize is awarded in conjunction with the European River Symposium, which attracts an audience of Europe's leading advocates for environment and river protection. This year, the European River Prize was awarded during the Gala Dinner of the 25th International Rivers symposium in Vienna, which was held from the 28th to the 30th of November.

Previous winners of the European River Prize include the Rhine River (2013), Mur River (2014), and the Segura River (2016).

In addition to the practical work being done, the programme also includes engagement, training, and educational initiatives, such as community events, volunteer days, internal and external training, conference and workshop presentations. The goal is to not only improve the quality of the rivers in the Lake District, but also to raise awareness and educate the community about the importance of protecting these natural resources for future generations.

The Lake District National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty and the Cumbria River Restoration partnerships programme is decidaed to preserving and enhancing that beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Congratulations to all those involved in the restoration and protection of these beautiful rivers, and we look forward to seeing more great work from the Cumbria River Restoration partnership programme in the future.