2019 UK River Prize

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New Forest Wetlands wins 2019 UK River Prize and Nigel Holmes Trophy


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2019 Winner
New Forest Wetlands, Hampshire
Catchment-scale Project
The New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (NF HLS) was set up in 2010 as a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Verderers of the New Forest, Forestry England and the New Forest National Park Authority to cover the Open Forest Crown lands. The HLS agreement is worth £19 million over ten years from 2010-2020 with a minimum of £750,000 available for wetland restoration per year. So far the New Forest HLS has delivered 59 projects, totalling 29km of restoration to the New Forest watercourses that had previously been deepened or realigned. The restoration of the mires and streams has delivered reduced knickpoint erosion, reduced incision and lateral erosion, increased floodplain connection, increased resilience during times of drought, and reduced flood peaks.
2019 Finalists
River Bulbourne, Hertfordshire
Urban Communities Project

Bringing Back the Bulbourne is a collaboration between the Box Moor Trust and the Environment Agency with input from the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, the Wild Trout Trust and local volunteers. The project has opened up 1.6km of habitat by removing a weir and has improved channel and riparian habitat. The river has regained many of its chalk stream characteristics. Clean gravel beds have been restored and diverse morphology and flow types are now apparent. Water crowfoot has been observed appearing in large swathes and visitors have reported seeing increased numbers of fish throughout the site. Riverfly monitoring results have shown a positive change in the invertebrate community. A public perception survey of 110 people spanning different age groups were interviewed on site, with the majority of people supportive of the scheme.

River Nairn, Scottish Highlands
Restoring Natural Processes

Aberarder Estate dates back to 1549 and covers nearly 5,000ha of Upper Strathnairn in the Highlands of Scotland. Over the years, 4km of the River Nairn had been very heavily modified to protect properties and agricultural ground. Following a process-based and assisted recovery approach, the implemented restoration works have reinstated natural physical and ecological processes. Channel realignment, improved floodplain connectivity, wetland reinstatement and large wood implementation have kick-started recovery towards the reference state of a wandering upland gravel-bed river. Extensive riparian tree planting will provide direct habitat benefit and also ensure the natural supply of large wood to the channel in the future. Within two weeks, sea trout were utilising typical spawning locations, with Atlantic salmon following a few weeks later.

River Otter, Devon
Beaver Trial Project

The River Otter Beaver Trial aims to establish a healthy population of Eurasian beavers in a lowland English river catchment and to demonstrate that beavers have a positive impact on ecology and local communities. The trial is running from 2015 - 2020. It covers the entire 250km2 of the River Otter catchment, which contains over 600km of watercourse. Beavers have been moving along the entire 50km main stem of the River Otter, and extensively colonising the River Tale (its largest tributary). The greatest effects of their engineering activity on watercourse morphology have occurred where territories are focused in headwater streams, and to date there are five beaver families building dam complexes in the smaller tributaries. This is increasing heterogeneity, creating meanders and spectacular in-channel habitats, taking water out of channel, and restoring natural processes.


The winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner on April 30th at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. If you would like to attend the Awards Dinner, including a three course meal, please email us. There is a £40 charge for attending the dinner.


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Highly commended projects

River Lea, Luton Farming for Water Project
Affinity Water Limited Severn Trent

Luton river restoration project recognised at top awards

Luton Borough Council - Manor Road Park River restoration



Find out more about the UK River Prize and previous winners >>>