The morning will commence with a report from the Society’s Chair, Kate O’Sullivan, followed by the finance report and the election of Society Trustees. The winners of three Society awards will be announced – the Mary and Brian Chugg Conservation Award, the Founders’ Award and the Pinnacle Youth Award.
The official business ended, we shall be delighted to welcome Ben Eardley, Riverlands Project Manager for the National Trust and Matt Pang, the Environment Agency’s Catchment Co-ordinator (Bristol Avon and Somerset) who will give a joint presentation about the exciting, innovative work being undertaken on the River Aller floodplain, upstream of Allerford village.
The National Trust’s 12,500 acre Holnicote Estate has two main catchments, the Horner Water and the River Aller. In 2009, the estate was successful in winning one of three DEFRA-funded national bids to demonstrate the benefits of natural flood management. Led by Nigel Hester, now a Society trustee, the Source to Sea demonstration project ran from 2009 until 2016, and showed that by slowing the flow of water throughout the catchment, flood risk to homes downstream in Allerford and Bossington could be reduced by 10%. In addition, the project funded a feasibility study into the reintroduction of water voles (released in 2018) and beavers.
The early work at Holnicote was the catalyst for the National Riverlands programme – a National Trust led partnership of work around natural river management and wetland habitat creation/restoration. The current project on the Aller was funded through the European Interreg 2 Seas Co-Adapt programme with additional funding provided by Defra’s Landscape Recovery Scheme.
Ben and Matt will tell us how the project will restore natural processes to build a more resilient river catchment, develop better wetland habitats, mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide benefits for people and nature. We will also hear about the hugely successful beaver project, which recently featured in the national media. Ben is planning to bring along some Virtual Reality headsets so you might get the chance to experience beaver life up close!
Tea and coffee will be provided during the day, but we ask members to please bring their own picnic lunch. Afterwards, Nigel Hester will lead a circular walk through Allerford village and the woods above to continue the watery theme by following two sections of the river.