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Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

What’s being reported?

Reports warn of a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of species threatened by extinction.

Conservation groups said 80 species of freshwater fish were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone.

In UK waters, the sturgeon and the burbot have vanished, salmon are disappearing and the European eel remains critically endangered.

“Nature is in freefall and the UK is no exception: wildlife struggles to survive, let alone thrive, in our polluted waters,” said David Tickner, Chief Freshwater Adviser at WWF.

Read the BBC article here

Why do we care?

Freshwater fish are important for a variety of reasons including;

  • Essential for healthy functioning of rivers
  • Conservation value – we have a responsibility to limit our impact on native faunal populations, cathartic and mental wellbeing
  • As a source of food
  • Source of income through angling and pet trade

How are we affecting fish populations?

The main ways that humans are impacting on the freshwater environment are;

  • Impoundments – weirs and dams for hydropower, flow gauging, abstraction, flood risk
  • Pollution – point source (such as sewage outflows) / diffuse pollution (such as agricultural pollution), sedimentation, alterations to water chemistry.

What are TRT doing about it?

At TRT one of our biggest priorities is reconnecting rivers, with both their floodplains and headwaters in order to reinstate natural processes and ensure that fish can access these necessary habitats. In 2013, TRT undertook a large fish passage at Darley Abbey on the River Derwent, modifying the existing impoundment to facilitate the passage of fish. The project opened up ~10 km of previously inaccessible habitat.  We have also removed smaller barriers to fish movement, such as a series of step weirs at Oakthorpe Brook in 2020. In 2021, TRT will be undertaking a number of weir removal projects, reconnecting tributaries of the Soar and Cole with vital headwaters.



Weston in Staffordshire River Restoration

A river restoration project has been completed on the Trent at Weston in Staffordshire.

The 2km length of river had very few features in the channel due to historical engineering and drainage works.  Before the restoration scheme, the flow was smooth with little capacity for the river to break down pollution, leaving no areas for fish to take refuge.

 The river banks were steep with very little flood plain connection.

Here at Trent River Trust, we have been working to enhance the river’s natural features and processes by implementing a range of techniques.

Re-profiling the river banks change the river’s flow around the bend to encourage deposition and more habitat variation on the river bed. Gravel was introduced to the channel to create riffles, increasing the oxygen levels and developing new habitats for invertebrates and fish spawning.     A backwater was excavated to create refuge for fish away from the main channel as well as introducing woody debris to help slow the flow and create a wider range of habitats on the river bed.

The increase in riffles, gravel and flow types helps the river break down pollution. The features installed help stimulate a range of natural processes, that will continue to develop over time.  The river now includes a much wider range of natural features such as islands, riffles and gravel bars. In several areas, trees have been planted to provide bank stability habitat and shade over the channel.


If you have any enquires please contact:


Great news for The River Eye and Trent Rivers Trust

We are delighted to announce that the Trent Rivers Trust has received a grant of £124,500 from the government’s #GreenRecoveryChallengeFund. Thank you to Heritage Fund UK for the grant! #TogetherForOurPlanet 

This amazing news means TRT can deliver improvements to the River Eye catchment and allow us to continue our work to restore the SSSI. This project will contribute to connecting people with nature, through working with landowners to identify ways of improving land management across the catchment to reduce pollution and to benefit wildlife.

As well as retaining 2 existing members of staff, this funding has allowed TRT to employ a young newly qualified officer to work with landowner’s part time on the River Eye and other existing projects to build experience and knowledge.

TRT has for a number of years wanted to carry out improvement works to the River Eye SSSI by implementing options identified and developed from the Strategic Restoration Plan. The project aims to improve wider land management by introducing measures to;

  • Reduce silt run-off
  • Manage phosphates
  • Manage flood risks through natural means
  • Increase tree cover


The restoration of the SSSI will be a continuation of work started by TRT in 2016. As the river is currently being assessed as being in unfavourable condition, TRT want to restore it by;

  • Increasing channel sinuosity
  • Retain large woody debris
  • Raise bed levels
  • Carry out tree management
  • Implementing new farming methods to manage high sediment and phosphorus run-off


These works consist of constructing in channel and bank features to conserve, enhance, restore and rehabilitate geomorphological features along the river to improve the biodiversity and resilience of the SSSI.

The completion of restoration works to the SSSI is a starting point for further restoration across the Eye catchment. Not only does the project aim to engage with 60 farmers, the SSSI restoration work will bring a community together by celebrating the works through social media and website updates. TRT will provide support to engage and raise awareness of river restoration with the Ernest Cook Trusts Estate’s (ECT) programme of events for school aged children.

This project will have a very positive environmental impact, both related directly to the SSSI site and in relation to the promotion and adoption of longer term positive environmental management across the wider River Eye catchment.

Want to learn more? Contact us:


60 mins of fishy tales with Trent Rivers Trust

Today we are celebrating World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) by hosting our very own online micro-event: “60 mins of fishy tales with Trent Rivers Trust” 

To join the fun head, to our Twitter or Facebook pages where we will be sharing some exciting projects we have delivered at:

At 12.30pm we will be hosting our first ever “Twitter Storm” (to see how to take part watch this video on Twitter or Facebook) where you can join us in talking about all things fish.

Just use the #trtlive and join in the fun!

Our younger supporters can read “An Incredible Journey” a children’s book that introduces the salmon life cycle and concepts such as ecosystems, keystone species, salmon culture and stewardship.  Or have some fun colouring awesome fishy pictures, the book and colouring pages can all be found on the WFMD webpage.


How Natural Flood Management in Southwell improved flood-risk resilience

During its three-year lifespan Southwell’s FRAMES project improved flood-risk resilience in the present day and for the future. Here are some of the project’s successes, impacts, and lessons learned.

Multi-layered approach

FRAMES involved pilot projects collaborating across five countries and aimed to integrate the Multi-Layered Safety Approach (MLSA) into future flood risk policy.

MLSA combines flood-prevention engineering methods with spatial planning and measures to boost community resilience and recovery. Combined, these four “layers” (see diagram, right) improve overall flood-risk resilience.

All 16 FRAMES pilots have demonstrated the success of this modern, integrated approach.

The Southwell FRAMES Pilot

Trent Rivers Trust (TRT) led the Southwell Pilot project, which sought to improve flood resilience in Southwell through natural flood management (NFM) intervention and community engagement.

The Southwell catchment is 6km2 and features clay soils with steep topography. The town itself has a history of floods including two recent events, a 2007 winter flood, and the 2013 summer flood at which 107.6mm of rain fell in 75 minutes; around 250 properties were flooded and the main road out of Southwell collapsed.

TRT worked with Southwell Flood Forum, the National Flood Forum and Nottinghamshire County Council to deliver this FRAMES project, “Improving Flood Resilience in Southwell.”

Dr. Josh Wells, project manager, says three key lessons were learned during Southwell FRAMES:

  • Communication is vital: with landowners and stakeholders,
  • Collaborate and involve all stakeholders, which means cutting across both geographical and political boundaries,
  • Monitoring: we must monitor and document the impact of the project and pass this knowledge on and leave a lasting legacy.

IMPACT: NFM interventions can help to store water and reduce flood risk

A corner of the field bund

Southwell FRAMES demonstrated that natural flood management (NFM) interventions within the upper catchment of the river can help to store water and reduce flood risk.

Working closely with landowners, Trent Rivers Trust installed 43 NFM measures across 12 landholdings. These now provide around 4000m3 of water storage within the upper catchment.

TRT installed a number of different NFM interventions to achieve this volume of water storage:

Corner of the field bunds within agricultural land, to reduce overland flow during high intensity rainfall events. These were monitored using time lapse cameras with data showing that they fill during intense rainfall and drain once high flows have passed.

A leaky barrier in Southwell

Leaky barriers within farm ditches and watercourses. They reduce the speed of any flood waves into the town and provide further storage and floodplain re-connection.

Raised cross drains along farm tracks where overland flow was documented. Previously, water was flowing onto the main road during high rainfall events; the cross drains now divert this water into constructed bunds and have improved safety and resilience locally.

IMPACT: Tree planting creates new woodland

The project created a new 0.1ha area of cross slope woodland, with 190 trees planted within a field in the upper catchment by TRT and Nottingham Trent University postgraduate students.

The woodland will increase soil infiltration rates and evapotranspiration whilst increasing the local biodiversity value of the area.

IMPACT: Building social capital and community resilience

The flood preparedness and awareness of the Southwell community has increased. Residents are more resilient and have taken on some responsibilities to manage flood risks. This was accomplished through physical and digital communication, community events and working closely with business owners and the Southwell Flood Forum.

IMPACT: Wetland scrapes add water storage capacity and create new wetland habitats

We constructed wetland scrapes along the River Greet, connecting them to the watercourse to increase floodplain storage capacity and to create additional wetland habitats.

A wetland scrape (photo CMB Contracting)

This work included the removal of a dredging bank to increase floodplain inundation frequency upstream of the town. The scrapes create an extra 1000m3 of water storage which become active during high flows.

Ponds were also constructed within the catchment to hold water whilst providing additional habitat.

Again, time lapse imagery demonstrated that they fill during high flow events and then drain once peak flow has passed and so a positive benefit of the storage ponds has been recorded.

IMPACT: students get SuDS appeal with runoff cutoff

Several sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) measures were piloted in Southwell through the project.
Rain garden planters were installed on the Nottingham Trent University campus and planted by student volunteers.

The planters temporarily attenuate runoff from buildings which would otherwise enter the drainage system. They look great too, so improve the visual appeal of the student accommodation.


Trent Rivers Trust worked with stakeholders throughout this project, building their capacity to address flood risk and their knowledge about the Multi-Layered Safety approach.

Our communication and dissemination activities sought to:

  • Increase stakeholders’, policymakers’ and decision makers’ knowledge and understanding of the use of NFM within flood risk management projects,
  • Increase their knowledge and understanding of the Multi-Layered Safety approach,
  • Facilitate knowledge-exchange between flood risk and resilience practitioners,
  • Collect and share data and evidence to inform future flood risk management policy.


A total of 178 organisations were informed about the successes and lessons learnt during the project. We have given presentations, talks and lectures to:

  • The Trent Regional Flood and Coast Committee.
  • The Nottinghamshire Strategic Flood Risk Management Board.
  • The Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group (a presentation and demonstration site visit, which increased the knowledge of local practitioners on the use of NFM and its ability to enhance the environment).
  • The Nottingham Open Spaces summit and during the East Midlands Council’s Planners conference – these presentations enhanced the knowledge of local practitioners of the spatial application of NFM.
  • Our Senior Catchment Manager, Kim Jennings, gave a lecture to the Fluvial Geomorphology and River Management students at Nottingham Trent University to further build the NFM knowledge capacity of early career river managers.
  • The River Restoration Conference and the Westminster Insight Conference, to promote the project at a national scale, with both talks well received and generating plenty of discussion.

We hosted many site visits during the project, including by scholars from Beijing’s Institute of Water Research which promoted the project at an international level.


Towards the end of the Southwell FRAMES project TRT convened the Flood Risk Management for the Next Decade conference, in Newark in February 2020. This showcased Southwell’s MLS approach to a wide range of national practitioners. The event also highlighted successful examples of collaboration, effective communication, use of public-domain data, partnership-building, community engagement and empowerment, and the importance of multiple, integrated measures for flood risk management.

This fully-booked event developed practitioner understanding of NFM whilst allowing for discussion of future flood risk management policy.

It was covered in the media by national UK magazine, Environment Journal and the BBC, which broadcast interviews with TRT’s Kim Jennings and Josh Wells every hour on its afternoon and evening news bulletins.

A series of short video interviews with event participants also contributed to our dissemination and communication activities. The interviews, posted to TRT’s website and YouTube channel, also demonstrate how the MLS approach integrates engineered measures for flood risk management with spatial planning, emergency response and resilient recovery.

Through this substantive media coverage and video interviews, the evidence of Southwell FRAMES’ impact reached thousands more members of the public at a time of great interest in policy and practice relating to flood risk and resilience.


TRT continues to advocate for an integrated approach to flood risk management and resilience. We are now delivering other NFM projects across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. TRT is recognised for the excellence our team bring to all stages of the process including feasibility studies, landowner liaison, design, construction and monitoring.

Thanks for your interest in our Southwell FRAMES project. Please do contact TRT if you would like to know more about TRT’s NFM projects.


River Mease Restoration works to be delivered this summer

Major capital works taking place to enhance important river habitats

Trent Rivers Trust (TRT), in collaboration with partners of the River Mease Catchment Restoration Project, has been spending the lockdown preparing for a summer season of scheme delivery on the River Mease Special Area of Conservation and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Eight schemes are due to be delivered across the catchment, from river restoration schemes on the River Mease itself to sediment trapping schemes at the headwaters of tributaries. The delivery is the culmination of a year’s worth of preparation, marking the end of the first year of this three-year project. Works will take place around Measham and Chilcote in North West Leicestershire, Netherseal and Overseal in South Derbyshire and Edingale and Croxall in the Lichfield district.

The project is co-funded by the Environment Agency and the local authority Developer Contribution Scheme to improve the water quality, habitat and biodiversity of the River Mease, which is one of the most highly designated rivers in the country, as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The works will result in 9km of watercourse being restored to more natural conditions, creating better habitat for the designated species; 8km of which is on the main River Mease itself. In addition, the works will also create 7.4ha of terrestrial habitat improvements, including enhancement of the riparian zone, tree planting and wetland creation.

More details about 6 of the schemes can be found in the site notices which are required as part of the consultation to work under the Environment Agency’s permitted development rights. If you have any comments on the proposals you may submit these to the address on the notices before 19th September 2020.

Here is a map of where each of the site notices are located River Restoration Autumn 2020 NEAS

You can read the site notices here… MEA023 Croxall; MEA021 Edingale; MEA009 Chilcote Brook; MEA007-8 Money Hill to Yew Tree; MEA007 Money Hill Farm; MEA002 Birds Hill Measham

Please follow the progress of the project on our twitter page @MeaseRiver


If you go down to the Brook today…

You’ll be in for a furry surprise, especially at Hilcote setback outfall on Normanton Brook in South Bolsover District, Derbyshire.  A local wildlife photographer Ian Wilson has told us that he has spotted 5, yes 5 Water Voles around the outfall.

Hilcote setback outfall is a project we successfully delivered in Spring 2019. The outfall brings rainwater off the nearby industrial estate directly to Normanton Brook.  Meaning any pollutants in the rainwater, say from a road spillage would find their way directly into the Brook.

Our project removed 25 metres of concrete outfall to create space to build a backwater and a swale. These intercept possible pollution, allowing it to breakdown before reaching the brook, improving the habitat for wildlife, particularly the water voles that live in the Brook.

Water voles (commonly known as the Water Rat – remember Ratty from Wind in the Willows?  He was a Water Vole) are the largest species of vole in Britain.  Water voles have undergone one of the most serious declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century. Loss and degradation of habitat, are major causes of decline as is the introduction of the American Mink .  It is thought that between 1989 and 1998, the population fell by almost 90 per cent!

So back to the Hilcote Five – how fantastic that our project has delivered an improved habitat, now where did I put that copy of Wind in the Willows?


Integrated approaches to improve Flood Risk Management: interviews from our FRAMES event

Video interviews from TRT’s Flood Risk Management for the Next Decade – a Multi-Layered Safety Approach event in February 2020.

The Multi-layered safety (MLS) approach integrates engineered measures for flood risk management with spatial planning, emergency response and resilient recovery. The concept has been applied to pilots around the North Sea region under the EU INTERREG FRAMES project, which includes sites within the UK.

Could the MLS concept be applied wider within the UK and inform sustainable Flood Risk Management?


TRT Welcomes New Chief Executive, Matt Easter

Matt Easter is the new Chief Executive of The Trent Rivers Trust. He takes up the role on 6 May 2020.

Joining the Trust Matt continues a career of over 20 years working in environmental sustainability. Most recently Sustrans’ Midlands and East Director he has considerable experience working and leading in the charitable sector.

The appointment of The Trent Rivers Trust’s first full time CEO reflects our recent growth and successes. Outgoing CEO Chloe Palmer led the Trust for nearly 8 years, expanding our work, impact and team, bringing huge benefits for the Trent’s rivers, streams and wetlands.