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Working together to revitalise Eden

River Eamont near Pooley Bridge showing pressures on the landscape. ©Rod Ireland Photography for Eden Rivers Trust

Yesterday saw the launch of Revitalising Eden: The Eden Catchment Plan, a practical, locally-driven response to the water management issues that face the environment and people across the Eden Catchment.

The River Eden is an internationally important river for wildlife and geology known as a Special Area for Conservation. Despite this, in a UK wide classification of water bodies, none of Eden’s 86 official waterbodies have ‘high’ water quality status, and 21% are classed as ‘poor’ or ‘bad’.

To address these shocking statistics, 30 organisations, committed to working together towards better management of land and water in the catchment, have come together to form the Eden Catchment Partnership. Members include statutory agencies, local government, charities, academia, community and landowning groups.

The Partnership has developed Revitalising Eden to identify and prioritise the action needed over the next ten years to manage Eden’s rivers sustainably, whilst improving the natural ecosystem services of the catchment. This Catchment Plan will help members of the Partnership to target their activities in places which will have the greatest benefit for both Eden’s environment and people and work together to make the most of available resources.

The Plan addresses issues resulting from the climate crisis and, critically for Eden, pays more attention to flooding than previous catchment plans.

Keith Ashcroft, Area Director for Cumbria and Lancashire, Environment Agency said: “I am delighted to see the strong Eden tradition of stakeholders working together to improve the environment continued in the development of the new Eden Catchment Plan. The detailed targeted actions they aim to deliver, will help address the multiple water management challenges we face – not least the increasing frequency of flooding that can devastate lives and livelihoods, but also in appreciating the health benefits we can all gain through enjoying our local surroundings. I look forward to working together with partners in the Plan’s delivery.”

The high-quality wildlife habitats, water and soils of the Eden Valley are its natural assets – often called natural capital. These assets provide ecosystem services; services provided by nature and not paid for ‘at the till’ that contribute towards making human life both possible and worth living.

Revitalising Eden focuses on the key ecosystem services for this area of Cumbria such as water quality, water quantity (managing floods and drought), ecological networks, carbon capture and storage and recreation and leisure.

With 21% of Eden’s waterbodies classed as poor quality and 29 communities at risk of flooding situated in the catchment, opportunities exist throughout the Eden catchment to improve every ecosystem service; particularly water quality, flood management, ecological networks and carbon storage.

Elizabeth Radford, CEO Eden Rivers Trust and Chair of the Eden Catchment Partnership said: “In delivering the Eden Catchment Plan, the Partnership members will show how working with natural processes can provide multiple benefits for people and the environment in a very cost effective way.

“Investing in creating a healthy environment – in trees, peat, wetlands and soil; will improve water quality, flood management and carbon sequestration in the Eden as well as benefiting our health and well-being. We hope everyone who shares our vision for a wildlife-rich, flood-safe landscape in the Eden, with thriving communities who respect and love the river from source to sea, will join us in our endeavours.”

You can download a copy of Revitalising Eden: The Eden Catchment Plan from: https://edenriverstrust.org.uk/eden-catchment-partnership/

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