Ponds on Exmoor mires.

‘Upstream Thinking’ earns CIWEM Wetlands Award

A team of Geographers working in collaboration with South West Water on a pioneering project has won CIWEM’s Living Wetlands Award.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM) Living Wetlands Award recognises multi-functional projects that demonstrate the sustainable use of wetland habitats.

The winning project, Upstream Thinking, has helped to restore thousands of acres of wetlands in the south west through South West Water's approach to managing water resources from the very beginning. Comprised of six different projects aimed at protecting raw water sources, Upstream Thinking provides wide-reaching, positive impacts on the environment - increasing biodiversity, reducing energy use, contributing to Water Framework Directive compliance, improving carbon sequestration and reducing the risk of flooding.

The University team working on this project is led by Professor Richard Brazier, and includes expertise from Dr Karen Anderson from the Environment and Sustainability Institute, a team of PhD students, technicians and research fellows. They have been instrumental in advising South West Water and project partners on the best approaches for monitoring ecosystems and their hydrological functioning. The team has been installing monitoring equipment and collecting data from the mires of Exmoor and Dartmoor and the Culm grasslands on North Devon before restoration takes place. The data they collect will provide a baseline for current conditions before the sites are restored in coming years.

“Wetlands projects can deliver multiple benefits such as more diverse and populous biodiversity, increased water storage, reduced flood risk and varied recreational opportunities. The Upstream Thinking programme is an excellent example of a whole systems approach that improves water quality and then reduces water treatment costs, while delivering many other benefits. The Living Wetlands Award judging panel is delighted to give the award to this project,” says award judge and CIWEM Director of Policy, Justin Taberham.

Upstream Thinking is delivered in partnership with a range of organisations, including the Westcountry Rivers Trust, Exmoor National Park Authority, Devon Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, the University of Exeter, Natural England and English Heritage.

Date: 6 June 2013

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