THOUSANDS of trees have been planted by volunteers near Roadford Lake, Devon, as part of our collaboration between environmental charities and businesses to improve water quality and habitat.

South West Water (SWW) provided the land for the trees’ new home and on Wednesday 4 March and Sunday 8 March, staff from Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), whose EU-funded Channel Payments for Ecosystem Services (CPES) Interreg project enabled the opportunity, joined teams from the water company, South West Lakes Trust (SWLT), Premier Foods and volunteer groups to dig deep and settle 2,000 native broad-leaves at the location.

Hazel Kendall, Head of Land Management at WRT, said: “As part of our CPES project, we helped develop, and are now working with, the Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board to advise businesses on how they can help protect water quality, and wider natural resources, that support their supply chains.

“This has led to companies such as SWW providing financial support, and Lifton-based food processor Ambrosia (owned by Premier Foods), to fund the purchase of 16,000 trees, to be planted across the Lyd catchment as part of our recent, and very successful, online NatureBid auction.”

This auction provided farmers and landowners with the opportunity to make bids to protect water quality via interventions such as watercourse fencing, field and river buffer strips, soil management and/or woodland planting on their land.

We worked with the Environment Agency (EA) and the Sylva Foundation to redevelop NatureBid, which the EA is monitoring through Defra’s Environmental Land Management Test & Trials evaluations which also contributed towards the auction’s grant funding.

Fellow charity SWLT supported the planting on the site it manages for SWW.

Neil Reeves shows volunteers how to plant the saplings safely.

Neil Reeves, Head of Countryside and Recreation at SWLT, said: “We are delighted to be involved; the project complements the existing Roadford Forest and the planting days have been a fantastic opportunity to bring together our volunteers and teams from across the region.

“It’s also an excellent way to celebrate our 20th anniversary year too.

South West Water’s Head of Environment, Perry Hobbs, said: “This is a fabulous way to celebrate partnership working and adds to our pledge to plant at least 100,000 trees over the next 10 years as well as supporting  the water industry’s broader goal of achieving a carbon-neutral water sector by 2030.”


Volunteers from Tavy Taskforce get stuck in helping to plant the trees.

The remainder of the 16,000 trees are being planted by successful bidders on the NatureBid auction.

Hazel added: “Strategic broad-leaved woodland planting in catchments can increase soil infiltration and reduce surface run-off, act as a natural buffer to help filter out or trap contaminants, boost biodiversity and sequester Carbon; all great ways to aid water quality and wildlife.

“We are extremely proud of what the CPES project and partnership working have achieved so far, and we hope others will continue to support our work in the future to ensure our water resources and our natural world remains resilient and productive.”

Individuals and businesses can continue to donate to support environmental investment via our CPES Fund.

For more info or to discuss CPES potential call 01579 372140.


Editor’s Notes:

The Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme is a European cross-border cooperation programme which aims at funding high quality cooperation projects in the Channel border region between France and England, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. These projects aim to find common solutions to common problems which exist in multiple countries.

Channel Payments for Ecosystem Services (CPES) is a cooperation project managed within the Interreg VA France (Channel) England programme. It has a €4 million budget, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (€2.8 million), and runs for a 45-month period (2017-2021.

Fourteen partners are working towards a common goal: to improve water quality entering the English Channel by implementing sustainable payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes in six pilot catchments in Southern England and Northern France.

The Lyd catchment of the Tamar is one of the pilot areas due to its strategic importance for water supply. As part of it CPES work, Westcountry Rivers Trust has been working with a group of companies with supply chain interests in the area, to understand how to lever investment for the catchments natural resources and improve land and water management for greater resilience and sustainability.

The Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board has been working with WRT and Business in the Community to identify and encourage best practice among their supply chains from farmers to retailers towards greater water protection and wider environmental benefits. More info at or

This links into a national initiative known as the Courtauld Commitment 2025 where companies, primarily in the food and drink sector, have pledged to reduce waste, and improve their water and Carbon footprints for greater overall sustainability.

The other pilot area for WRT’s delivery of the CPES project is the Gara (South Devon). This has a different landscape – in terms of soils, predominant land use sectors (dairy & arable) – and potentially interested supply chains or stakeholders.

WRT has no plans to operate the NatureBid platform on the Gara, but is currently engaging the farming community and Partners via its Farm Advisors, and seeking funding support for similar interventions through the CPES Fund:

South West Water is a water company providing high quality drinking water and wastewater services throughout Cornwall and Devon and parts of Dorset and Somerset. It is part of South West Water Limited, which is a member of Pennon Group PLC.

South West Lakes Trust is a charity is dedicated to caring for and enhancing the South West’s reservoirs and lakes.

Premier Foods is one of Britain’s biggest listed food companies, aiming to source sustainably from British suppliers and farmers.

The Sylva Foundation is a charity aiming to help Britain’s trees and woodlands thrive for people and for nature.

The Environment Agency works to create better places for people and wildlife and support sustainable development. It is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Defra’s new Environmental Land Management scheme, the Government’s future Agri Environment system to support and fund environmental activity is currently in development – a series of Tests & Trials have been commissioned to gather experience and understanding which could inform what this new system may incorporate. Through working with the EA on this project, the trialling and development of the web platform has been one such contributor and feedback from farmers will be part of this.