2023 has been an extraordinary year for the Trust in terms of delivering project outputs and outcomes.

We have continued to improved fish passage on several of our rivers and whilst a couple of our larger projects such as Water for Growth (Structural Investment Fund), which saw 17 barriers removed, eased or adapted to improve fish passage, came to an end in 2023, many continue at pace.

Upstream Thinking (South West Water funding) is moving into its 15th year, with more and more delivery underway to not only protect drinking water quality but also slow and store water. 

This year, we also started a new project called Water Net Gain (OFWAT Funding).

This is looking at how using a network of ponds and lakes to divert and store surface water run-off during floods for short term capture in Natural Flood Management (NFM) features can tackle drought.

Additionally, our NFM projects such as Rapid Response Catchments (Environment Agency funding and operating in Devon), have been augmented by a Resilient Catchment Communities (Shared Prosperity Fund) project looking to install six demonstration sites across Cornwall. These will showcase the density, diversity and interconnectedness of NFM needed to attenuate flood peaks. The only challenge is the need to stop using quite so many C’s and R’s in our acronyms! 

Work such as this highlight the guiding principles of the Trust summed up in the Ecosystem Approach.

The idea was first developed in the 1992 Rio Summit at the Convention of Biological Diversity. It underpinned the Trust’s founding ethos and development in 1994 and its 12 guiding principles are still just as relevant 30 years later.  

Managing and balancing societies needs, through a deep seated understanding of ecosystem scale, function and limits includes working directly with land managers. Partnership working with relevant sectors and stakeholders, using a wide set of information and data to recognise the gains and the trade-offs has never been so crucial. 

This is why the Trust continues to be guided by the Ecosystem Approach. We practice Integrated Catchment Management, pulling together the often-siloed funding, partnerships and management to create sustainable resilience within our communities.

We are delighted our work across Cornwall (and beyond) has been recognised at the year’s Cornwall Sustainability Awards. Not only did our charity secure the top spot in the Environmental Growth category but we won the Overall Winner title too.

As we enter 2024 and our 30th anniversary year, it gives us time to reflect on our charity’s journey but also where we will need to go as a society over the next 30 years to deal with the pressing issues our rivers face.

We are determined to keep bringing the region’s rivers to life for all who enjoy and depend on them.

For now, on behalf of everyone at the Trust, we wish you a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.