Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce that the River Avon Restoration Project, in which they are a partner, has won the 2017 UK River Prize. The festivities took place during the annual meeting of river restoration professionals in Brighton this week.

The local projects ‘whole river approach’ to restoration and management impressed the judges who had already voted it the best entry in the ‘catchment category’ of the 2017 UK River Prize, a national competition that celebrates the most innovative and successful river projects across England, Scotland and Wales.

Martijn Antheunisse, Team Leader Water Projects at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust said: “I still can’t believe it! All finalists seemed equally good, so I’m very proud of the team. This is great recognition for all the hard work we’ve done over the last five years. Not just for us, but especially for all the people and organisations we work with in this catchment.”

The aim of this project was to restore reaches of the Hampshire Avon River which were most damaged in the past by man-made changes including the straightening or dredging of the river channel and construction of weirs and sluices. Various methods have been used to improve habitats and restore natural flows and functions such as the removal, modification and bypassing of structures and re-alignment of the river to more natural positions in the floodplain.

Since the project began five years ago, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has worked together with a range of partners, including the Environment Agency – the project lead, Wessex Rivers Trust, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Wessex Water and Natural England, to restore the Hampshire Avon to a more natural functioning river. The work aims to boost wildlife and water quality, whilst working with local communities.

The restoration started in 2012 and will culminate in the completion of Phase 1 of the project later this year. Further work is needed to restore the remaining 185km of river and enable the river to respond and adapt to climate change and other future pressures.