Westcountry Rivers Trust vision

Environmental charity Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), established in 1994, is dedicated to restoring and protecting the region’s freshwater environments. Their work is underpinned by science, evidence and experience, and a commitment to the resilience and sustainability of rivers, estuarine and coastal areas across catchments in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset.

Through working partnerships - connecting with educational bodies, farming and fishing communities, water sector companies, businesses, and grassroot groups - they steer collaborative action to keep rivers healthy for all who rely on them, both now and in the future.

The university work with Westcountry Rivers Trust on a number of research and student projects. This partnership is creating new and exciting opportunities for:

  • Student support through projects and placements
  • Collaboration on funding
  • Teaching and research
  • Cultural and professional understanding
  • Future collaborative aspirations

Student placements 

In 2021, Lucie joined the charity’s water monitoring team on a placement as part of her MSc Environmental Consultancy studies. Lucie assisted in water quality testing as part of the Plymouth River Keepers project, sampling the water quality of the streams north-west outskirts of Plymouth which aimed to engage people living in the surrounding communities to take greater interest in their local waterways. Lucie said:
“It was great to be able to see the reality of the job of a river scientist, scrambling across riverbanks and orientating the river catchment. The team showed me how important it is to follow the science to inform evidence-based decisions. I can now more fully appreciate how valuable it is for the river trusts to have eyes on the ground too. I’m excited to see what’s next for Plymouth River Keepers – thank you for having me along.”
Read more about Lucie’s work experience.
Lucie monitoring water

Plymouth River Keepers project

For Westcountry Rivers Trust, having students support staff in adding to the data needed to review the health of urban and rural watercourse is invaluable. 

Partnership working

The university has been involved with the Westcountry Rivers Trust on the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project. This France and England 18-partner scheme seeks to understand and reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment across seven pilot sites.
The collaboration between the charity and university has involved research related to microplastic in the Tamar catchment from source to sea. The overall aim is to identify and target hotspots for plastic, embed behaviour change in local communities and businesses, and implement effective solutions and alternatives.
The €14m PPP project is funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, which has committed €9.9m in funding through the European Regional Development Fund.

More about WRT

The charity works with cross-border projects such as Triple-C, which is funded through the EU Interreg Atlantic Area. This provides research opportunities into the capitalisation of successful initiatives that prevent and manage risks derived from climate change.
Regionally significant projects include its Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board (TWSBB), which brings together food and drink sector firms with local connections to enhance sustainability within supply chains, while its grassroots Devon and Cornwall Soils Alliance involves farmers and interested parties to build capabilities and capacity in soils advice to underpin best practice land use and healthy freshwater environments. The TWSBB has been supported via EU-funded Interreg France (Channel) England (CPES), while the DCSA has been supported by South West Water’s Upstream Thinking; the EU-funded Interreg Atlantic Area and the Interreg France (Channel) England (CPES).
Read more at www.wrt.org.uk