Measuring the success of our work
We are a small environmental charity and we work with people and communities to protect and enhance the River Tyne and its tributaries, so they are healthy, biodiverse, and an asset for present and future generations.
Our team work across both the urban and rural river catchment of the Tyne and its tributaries in order to improve and sustain the water quality and health of the river. With this in mind, we also strive to encourage and contribute to sustainable economic development (where this is compatible with maintaining or improving environmental quality) by improving and rehabilitating the river and ensure that the river and the river corridor are managed in the best interests of a healthy population of fauna and flora, and encourage biodiversity of both wildlife and in-river species (fish and invertebrates).
Tyne Rivers Trust celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024 and as part of our celebratory plans we’ll be taking supporters on a journey of our achievements to date, but bringing things back to the present, we wanted to share an insight into what we have achieved as a Trust in terms of support and recognition for our work and why it’s important to shout about what we do through education, tackling pollution and practical conservation.
Volunteering with the Trust is a great way to spend time outdoors, meet new people and help us improve the river. We are so fortunate to have a fantastic team of volunteers who carry out practical tasks that improve habitat and make the river a better place to be. Barbara Wardle, a TRT volunteer was the first winner of The Rivers Trust volunteer award for Haydon Bridge River Watch Group, while long-time volunteer John Wollaston was the most recent winner of The Rivers Trust volunteer award. The Trust has also won two ‘Love Northumberland’ awards for volunteering (Best New Project in 2013 for Haltwhistle Burn – a Total Catchment Approach and most recently (2023) for our River Model.
From natural flood management projects to invasive species removal, our work is diverse and varied. We were awarded the England River Prize administered by River Restoration Centre for a multi-partnership project 2014 for Haltwhistle Burn – a Total Catchment Approach.
Our natural Flood Management (NFM) project in Haltwhistle was also highlighted as an example of international best practice at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The three-year project to improve water quality and relieve flooding impact of Haltwhistle Burn was captured as part of a short film and was shown to delegates at the international climate change conference.
The project was the first of its kind in the Tyne catchment, using natural materials rather than hard engineering to slow the flow of water during heavy rainfall, reduce aggravated erosion and improve water quality. Working with Newcastle University, we created four ponds as the first line of defence – which help to hold back the water, reducing the risk of flooding in the town and the erosion of the catchment.Further downstream, a ‘Kerplunk’ system made up of a 60m ‘ladder’ of criss-crossing logs pinned into the banks of Slaty Sike, a tributary of the burn, slows the flow of water during periods of intense rainfall, trapping sediments and rocks just like the marbles in a game of Kerplunk.
The opportunity to work with the WWF in 2019 through their Dam Removal Europe Crowdfunding Campaign is one we couldn’t pass up. We were ‘rewilding’ the stream and making it a better place for insects, birds, people and fish. Weirs, culverts and bridge footings in the Tyne catchment watercourse prevent fish migration. Where these structures are present, the space that fish can live in is reduced, and so are their numbers. Furthermore, natural sediment transport is affected, impacting invertebrates, which are a critical food source for juvenile fish. In fact, the impact is so great that a recent study provided strong evidence that the decline of salmon in Europe was primarily caused by the construction and continued presence of these structures. What is perhaps most galling is that most of these structures no longer perform the function for which they were constructed, so could be removed with no negative impact.
In some cases, communities value structures for their heritage value, so would not permit their removal. Other structures could be holding back such vast quantities of contaminated material that would be released, meaning their removal would create greater environmental harm than good. We were shortlisted for the Dam Removal Europe Award 2022 for the Darden Burn Dam Removal and this project is just one of many that undertake to return our rivers to how they should be for the benefit of insects, birds, fish, mammals and, ultimately, ourselves!