Our Plymouth River Keepers project officer Jenny Wytcherley spoke with Devon Life magazine about discovering the joys of nature on your doorstep in north-west Plymouth 

If you go down to the woods and streams in north-west Plymouth in the next few years, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. 

Our charity has created the community project, Plymouth River Keepers (PRK) so that people, initially in Ernesettle, Tamerton Foliot, Southway, Whitleigh, Widewell, Honicknowle, Derriford West and Crownhill, and Manadon and Widey, can get involved to keep the streams at the bottom of their gardens and ends of their roads flourishing – for wildlife, for people, and for always. 

Everyone who lives or works in the area is invited to work together to implement their ideas to restore and improve three local streams. 

Jenny explains: “This project is about the people as much as looking after nature; we know that being near water lowers stress and improves moods.

“If, together, we create a legacy of loveliness in these outdoor spaces then people can continue to enjoy and care for them.” 

Through PRK, people can take positive action to help prevent problems in several ways such as becoming a citizen scientist. This is a great way to learn about life in and near the water and provide data to monitor the health of the streams. 

Residents and community groups are also invited to take part in a survey that includes wildlife sightings, while events such as litter picks and the removal of invasive non-native plant species will take place as large social gatherings become safer to hold. 

Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) , which has been restoring and protecting the region’s rivers for more than 26 years, will also improve habitats through work such as coppicing trees, strengthening riverbanks and removing barriers to fish passage. 

Jenny adds: “We held our first virtual ‘river dip’ in September to share news about the project. 

“It was wonderful to be joined online by so many interested people and the recording can be seen via our PRK web page; we aim to hold more of these sessions in future.” 

South Devon’s Bioregional Learning Centre (BLC) has been working in partnership with WRT on the project as part of its initial community engagement.

They created a Story of Place, discovering local stories from those who live and work in the area. 

Isabel Carlisle, one of the co-directors of the BLC, says: “Our Story of Place highlights what is special about this part of Plymouth.” 

Their research can be viewed as part of the ‘river dip’ online event recording. 

PRK aims include preventing pollution incidents (including plastics), improving water quality, embedding water environment caretakers in communities, and building a love for water where it flows close to home. 

Visit wrt.org.uk/project/plymouth-river-keepers/ to find out more, watch the recording, complete surveys and share your stories.

Visit Devon Life too.