West Cumbria Rivers Trust, Nature Finance and The Rivers Trust are developing an ambitious project to deliver nature-based solutions at a whole catchment scale to reduce flood risk, restore nature, mitigate against climate change and support farmers in the Glenderamackin catchment of the Lake District. This will be achieved through an innovative financial model that links investors, buyers and sellers of ecosystems services.
The Glenderamackin catchment
The catchment of the River Glenderamackin is approximately 142 square kilometers and includes the mountains and river valleys that drain into Keswick, including Mungrisdale, Troutbeck, the Naddle and St John’s in the Vale.
The River Glenderamackin is part of the River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake Special Area of Conservation (SAC), whilst most of the upland areas of the catchment are part of the Lake District High Fells SAC. The entire catchment sits within the Lake District National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated for its cultural heritage.
In many ways, the Glenderamackin catchment is a special place, but it is not without its challenges. Communities, businesses and landowners in the catchment are facing a combination of environmental, social and economic challenges created by climate change and historic land use policy, including those outlined below:
- Increased frequency and severity of flooding - Homes and businesses in Keswick are at risk of flooding and this risk is predicted to increase with climate change.
- Poor water quality - High phosphate loads from wastewater discharges and agricultural runoff mean the SAC river is in an ‘unfavourable’ condition.
- Poor habitat condition - Important habitats such as woodlands, wetlands and ponds have disappeared from our countryside. Those that still exist are often in poor condition and are not connected so wildlife can’t move through the landscape.
- Degraded peatlands – When peat is in a poor condition it increases fire risk, contributes to flooding and reduces habitat available for wildlife. The erosion of peat is also source of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Vulnerability to drought – Drained and modified landscapes don’t hold onto water, making them susceptible to drought during the dry summer months. This has negative effects for businesses, farms and wildlife.
- Changing farm payments and uncertain futures for farm businesses.
The Project Background
Between 2018 and 2022, West Cumbria Rivers Trust delivered a suite of Natural Flood Management and habitat improvement measures across the catchment, working with over 40 farmers. The project was a success and demonstrated how natural flood management can work. However, to meaningfully contribute to flood risk reduction there was a recognition for the need to scale up the approach and create a way to pay farmers and landowners to look after these interventions for the long term.
This work was funded through the DEFRA NFM program, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Water Environment Grant and the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
We aim to develop a network of nature-based solutions across the Glenderamackin catchment that will:
- Reduce flood risk to Keswick and increase resilience to climate change by reducing predicted future flood peaks by 10% (modelled for the present day 1 in 30-year flood event);
- Improve water quality;
- Restore habitats and enhance biodiversity;
- Store carbon;
- Replenish water supplies to offset water that is abstracted and increase resilience to drought.
To create a Resilient Glenderamackin catchment, these features need to be delivered at scale. We are aiming to deliver 800,000 cubic meters of flood water storage by connecting rivers to their floodplains, creating 185 hectares of new woodland, restoring 45 hectares of wetland and 30 hectares of peat, re-naturalising 4 km of river, and improving the condition of soils and grasslands.
Nature based solutions have multiple benefits, for communities at risk of flooding, for the environment and for our farming businesses. The project will also support sustainable food production. The team will be working with farmers to co-design the project to allow farming and nature to go hand-in-hand. Land managers covering 11,000Ha have given their support to the project, including three Commons associations.
How we will achieve this
Using learning from a similar but smaller scale investment-funded Natural Flood Management project in Lancashire, the Resilient Glenderamackin project will blend public and private finance. This will allow farmers to be appropriately financed to host and maintain nature-based solutions on their land for 20+ years.
Private finance is essential in helping the team deliver this project and ensuring its long-term success. The Projects4Nature funding will be used to employ a Project Officer to build partnerships with local and national businesses. This role will allow the project team to understand Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Social Governance drivers and highlight opportunities to help co-fund the delivery of the Resilient Glenderamackin project.
The main driver of the project is flood risk reduction, therefore one of the stakeholders we would like to engage is the insurance sectors, to identify and unlock long term solutions for insurance companies to invest in Natural Flood Management. We’re keen to hear from any company interested in our project and to have discussions around how we can help support your environmental strategies.
Our team are a passionate bunch of people who have a proven track record of successfully delivering environmental projects on time and on budget. The project team, made up of staff from West Cumbria Rivers Trust, Nature Finance and the Rivers Trust, have a wealth of experience across project management, environmental delivery, farm liaison, data analysis and financial management.
Greg Nicholson, a farmer near Keswick said:
“[West Cumbria Rivers Trust] are good to work with and I’m looking forward to finding out more about what we can do together to deliver positive work in the catchment that has wider benefits for nature and reducing flood risk, alongside our farm business”.
Project Manager, Vikki Salas said:
“This has been a complex and exciting project to develop to date. We’ll be breaking new ground and we’re keen to work with businesses to get going on the ground as soon as possible to urgently address the biodiversity and climate issues this area faces.”