Tyne Rivers Trust
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Tyne For Change

Tyne Rivers Trust will celebrate 20 years of protecting the Tyne rivers in 2024. Much has changed in 20 years – for better and for worse it could be said. As the spotlight remains strongly on UK river health, and rightly so, we wanted to shed some light on our own practises and policies as a contribution to the conversation around water quality, pollution, flooding and our catchment based approach.

The Tyne catchment is all of the land which runs downhill into burns, streams, rivers and drainage systems (including road drains and sewers) and ends up flowing into the sea at Tynemouth (the Mouth of the Tyne). As a small environmental charity, entrusted by government and local residents to produce a plan for a catchment that contains 2,733miles(4,399km) of waterways in total, it’s common sense that we work with a number of partners to help us deliver this work. This has been referred to previously as a ‘perpetual partnership process’ and that still rings true today. Our appreciation of a catchment based approach remains strong and the complexities of partnership working across a wide variety of organisations with their own political, capital, industrial drivers is a large part of our work behind the scenes to bring projects to fruition.

Perhaps one of the ‘simplest’ things achieved in the past 20 years is that we have improved external understanding of how the water cycle affects water quality. Increasingly heavy rainfall can have an erosive force which generates nutrient and metal contaminated pollution. Add to this improved digital mapping systems and internal expertise, and we have markedly improved how we record and share data towards a better understanding of how our work affects the catchment.

Developing our team’s knowledge and experience is of course vital to our work, which is why we moved from a community to strategic focus for our volunteer tasks and invasive species (INNS) management. Volunteer tasks aren’t plucked from a list of ‘what shall we do today?’ but designed with the seasons, location and priority in mind. We’re always open to new technologies that may enable us to work smarter, not harder. For example utilising eDNA to help understand species distribution and fine sediment fingerprinting to help understand major sources of pollution. While we have improved the scope and quality of what we can achieve through training and experience, our commitment, enthusiasm and striving for better knowledge, data and impact has not changed.

We have always put the health of the Tyne rivers at the heart of what we do. We are the voice of the Tyne and will continue to be so for as long as possible.

The Climate Emergency has raised challenges for supply chains and business models and sustainability for many organisations, ours included. Nevertheless we persist. Let’s hope we are not too late.

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