One of the leading organisations responsible for the protection and enhancement of the River Tweed and its surrounding lands will mark its silver anniversary this year with the introduction of a special River Champion Award.
Over the last 25 years, the Tweed Forum has worked with farmers, foresters, landowners, ghillies and public and private sector bodies on both sides of the Border to protect and improve the 5,000 sq km catchment of the second largest river in Scotland.
This partnership approach has led to the planting of over 300,000 trees, created over 120 ponds and wetlands, enhanced around 300 km of river, restored over 20 listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments and enabled the management over 10,000 hectares of woodland, wetland and heather moorland. The benefits include better supplies of cleaner, fresher water, an enhanced landscape, flora and fauna, increased resilience against extreme events such as flooding and drought, the protection and enhancement of fish stocks, the capture and storage of greenhouse gases and the provision of increased tourism and recreation opportunities.
The Tweed Forum’s work in providing a partnership approach to the management of the river and its surrounds led to UNESCO recognition in 2009, and the receipt of the first UK Rivers Prize in 2015.
Later this month, the Tweed Forum will launch its new River Champion Award, which aims to showcase the diversity of ways that local people in the Borders and North of England are working to preserve one of the country’s most precious assets and reward one individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the cause.
Luke Comins, Director of Tweed Forum said: “The protection and enhancement of the Tweed’s land and waters relies on the collective efforts of a large and diverse range of people including farmers, ghillies, fishermen, foresters and volunteers on both sides of the Border, all of whom share our aims and aspirations to conserve, enhance and raise awareness of the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Tweed. Our new Tweed Forum River Champion Award is an opportunity for us to recognise the often unsung role they play. We will be inviting applications for the Award in the coming months and announcing the winner of this new accolade towards the end of this, our special anniversary year.”
The Tweed Forum effectively began in 1991 when the River Purification Board, Tweed Commissioner and Nature Conservancy Council met to discuss a single issue – the removal of gravel in a river channel. Brought together by a knowledge and love of the River Tweed, the organisation that developed recognised the link between land and water management across the whole length of the river, as well as the importance of bringing together a range of individuals, landowners and public and private sector organisations to deliver lasting, practical measures to achieve multiple benefits for the environment.
Today, the Tweed Forum is a major player, not only in delivering improvements across the Tweed, but also on advising government and its environmental agencies on the needs and implications of policies to improve wetland environments and to sustain farming. Invitations to explain how the Forum works have come from Europe, Central America, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
James Hepburne Scott, Chairman of Tweed Forum said; “An organisation formed to solve a single problem 25 years ago has now grown to be one of the most recognised river trusts, not just in the UK, but globally. We are exceptionally proud of this and of the work of this special partnership in furthering the welfare of this precious river and the communities living alongside it. We believe it is important to use our silver anniversary to look back with pride at our achievements and to look forward to continuing to work together for the future benefit of the region.”
Partnership Projects undertaken in the Borders include:
· Development and delivery of the £9 million Tweed Rivers Heritage Project
· Major wetland and woodland creation in the Gala Water to improve biodiversity and reduce flooding.
· A major partnership project at the Eddleston Water to test the effectiveness of habitat restoration on reducing flooding.
· Instrumental in settling up the Osprey Viewing Point at Kailzie and the Salmon Viewing at Philiphaugh
· Work to eradicate the invasive Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed species along 300 miles of river.
· Saving Dryhope Tower from collapse
· Restoring Fatlips Castle – an iconic landmark overlooking the Teviot, as well as Cessford Castle, Temple of the Muses, Crystal Well and Coldingham Priory
· Working with farmers on the Eye Water to reduce diffuse pollution from livestock through fencing and buffering
· Managing the Fallago Environment Fund
Partnership projects undertaken in Northumberland include:
· Restoring the River Till by reconnecting the river with the floodplain, creating wetlands and removing barriers to migratory fish
· Cheviot Futures – working with land managers and communities to build resilience to more extreme climatic events
· Providing habitat improvements and channel stabilisation in Bowmont Valley after a series of damaging flood events