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Collective action partnership to bring chalk streams back to life in East Anglia

Jun 2nd, 2016 |

Last month, EWP had the pleasure to join a field visit to East Anglia to learn about the collective action partnership between Coca-Cola, Rivers Trust, WWF, and farmers to bring life back to chalk streams in England.

WWF has been working in partnership with Coca-Cola to highlight the need for collective action from communities, the Government and other secure a thriving future for English rivers since 2012 and have achieved some impressive results. For example, in the River Nar catchment WWF and Coca-Cola showed what good community action for rivers looked like in chalk stream catchments linked to Coca-Cola operations. The Nar in Norfolk is an area where a lot of sugar beet is grown. The partners worked with the Norfolk Rivers Trust who engaged farmers to improve agricultural practises over 2000 acres and reduced pollution that might otherwise have run off into the river. The partners also enlisted the help of an army of volunteers, including Coca-Cola staff, to undertake river restoration across 3km of the Nar in Norfolk and 4kms of the Cray in South London. Coca-Cola has a goal to replenish the same amount of water as they use in finished drink beverages and production by 2020 –thanks to the farming project the environment benefits from 286 million litres of improved water.

And it wasn’t just about undertaking work on the ground. The partners worked with local communities to create catchment plans that explain the vital actions needed to restore their rivers as well as helped  people respond to a consultation on future national plans for rivers through the Save our Waters initiative. In addition, with support from Coca-Cola, WWF has been working to make sure the laws governing the water industry work harder to protect rivers.

The partnership now continues to scale up water sensitive farming work across two much larger river management catchments: The Cam & Ely Ouse and Broadland Rivers catchments. Both catchments are areas rich in biodiversity but 80% of rivers in the area are failing to achieve EU targets of ‘good status’, with agricultural pollution being major causes of the failure.

The Rivers Trusts will work with at least 100 farmers to implement new water sensitive practices that will reduce pollution, such as installing silt traps to reduce sediment running off fields into rivers. The partners will share the lessons and results of this approach with farmers, businesses and government through workshops, case studies and visits, to prompt further action by others.

During the field visit, the participants learned why the chalk streams are such special places and spent an afternoon with a local farmer who explained in great detail why he’s chosen to work hard to manage his land sustainably and minimise the impact of farming on the local river. He expressed a clear and inspiring commitment to sustaining his business whilst also sustaining the natural world around him.

As part of the project advancing collective water stewardship in agriculture (CAPWaSA), EWP is currently collecting best practice examples of the collective action partnerships across the EU.

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