The Westcountry Rivers Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust were delighted to win an award this month for recognition of their work delivering the Upstream Thinking Project across Cornish river catchments: The Cornwall Sustainability Award 2015 for Best Contribution to Environmental Growth.

Funded by South West Water, Upstream thinking is now its second phase. Working closely with the agricultural community, we work to implement simple measures that drastically reduce the potential for pollutants to enter the river water.  Upstream Thinking allows the Trusts to carry out farm visits providing confidential advice, providing recommendations for improvements in working practice or to farm infrastructure which not only protects the freshwater environment which provides us with our drinking water, but also assists with understanding cost savings for the farm business. The associated benefits from this to the wider river catchment area include boosting habitats, wildlife and levels of biodiversity, besides improving soil health, increasing infiltration rates which help support base flows and consistent supply – levelling out peaks and troughs from low flows to spate events, hence providing positive outcomes for wider society.

Phase 2 of Upstream Thinking runs from 2015 until 2020 and builds on the successes of Phase 1. Upstream Thinking is one of the few working example of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) project  where a provider (the farmer or landowner) is paid by a buyer (SWW), through an intermediary ethical broker (WRT &CWT).

The Project is delivered as a Partnership across the region and fittingly both Trusts and South West Water were present to receive the award on the night. It’s taken a team effort to make this happen on the ground and we are proud to work together to make it happen and draw on each other’s experience.