Back to news and stories

Learning from an Exemplar Project: Yealm Estuary to Moor


Basiic Maill iicon
Basic Twitter Icon
Basic Linkedin Icon
Basic Facebook Icon

July 4, 2023

On June 20th, several group leaders from rivers projects on the Erme, Avon and Dart met three leading members of Yealm Estuary to Moor to learn and gain inspiration. Find out more in our blog post from Rachael Tily:

Yealm Estuary to Moor has pioneered a catchment-scale approach to tackling pollution and biodiversity with the objective of creating wildlife corridors for aqueous and terrestrial wildlife.  Their approach was showcased, alongside that of Friends of the Dart, at Sustainable South Ham’s River Assembly in March; this inspired the creation of two new river groups: Wild About the Erme River (WATER) and Avon River Champions (ARC).

Over coffee at Ben’s Farm café in Yealmpton Peter Brown (YEM Project Co-ordinator), Tony Hawkins (Water-based projects) and Charles Weston Baker (Land-based projects) were quizzed about every aspect of the approach they have pioneered – addressing pollution, biodiversity and related challenges at a catchment-scale. Partnerships, insurance, volunteers, funding, citizen science, and organisational structures were all discussed in animated dialogues.  Peter, Tony and Charles set the tone for effective collaboration between the river groups: freely sharing approaches and information and ensuring the groups work in dialogue not competition.  

Discussions could have continued all day, but it was time for the next stage of the fieldtrip: we were off to marvel at 3000 trees planted by the YEM team on adjacent land. Here we listened to the way YEM had bought together a network of partners to remove and replace non-native woodland.  We found ourselves in a field with saplings growing as far as we could see.  Even the space under electricity pylons, where trees could not be safely planted, was to be put to use as a nursery growing saplings for other projects in the catchment.

From here we were ferried by car to visit the YEM continuous monitoring equipment.  This impressive bit of kit was purchased with the support of parish councils throughout the catchment.  Every fifteen minutes it records a series of measurements of water quality.  If these exceed preset thresholds volunteers receive an alert and jump to action. The YEM pollution response team visit areas of concern and record information about pollution incidents relaying this to the Environment Agency.

Following the event conversations continued with individual meetings arranged to capture more information about the YEM approach and to build links between organisations and river projects.

The event connected river groups at different stages of development.  It supported the exchange of ideas and knowledge – fast tracking the scale-up of the effective solutions pioneered on the Yealm.  Inspired?  Definitely.  Many thanks to Peter, Charles and Tony.