Over that time it has been responsible for the protection and enhancement of the River Tweed’s 5,000sqkm catchment area, working with farmers, foresters, landowners, ghillies and public and private sector bodies on both sides of the border.
This partnership approach has led to the planting of over 300,000 trees, created over 120 ponds and wetlands, enhanced around 300 km of river, restored over 20 listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments and enabled the management over 10,000 hectares of woodland, wetland and heather moorland.
The benefits include cleaner, fresher water, an enhanced landscape, increased resilience against extreme events such as flooding and drought, the protection and enhancement of fish stocks, the capture and storage of greenhouse gases and increased tourism and recreation opportunities.
Tweed Forum’s partnership approach to the management of the river led to UNESCO recognition in 2009, the receipt of the first UK Rivers Prize in 2015, and invitations from across the world to explain how the partnership works in practice.
The new River Champion Award aims to showcase the diversity of ways that people are working to preserve one of the country’s most precious assets and reward an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the cause.
Luke Comins, director of Tweed Forum said: “The protection and enhancement of the Tweed’s land and waters relies on the collective efforts of a large and diverse range of people, all of whom share our aims and aspirations to conserve, enhance and raise awareness of the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Tweed.
“Our new Tweed Forum River Champion Award is an opportunity for us to recognise the often unsung role they play. We will be inviting applications for the award in the coming months and announcing the winner towards the end of this, our special anniversary year.”
The Tweed Forum began in 1991 when the River Purification Board, Tweed Commissioner and Nature Conservancy Council met to discuss a single issue – removal of gravel in a river channel. Today it is a major player, advising government and environmental agencies on the implications of policies to improve wetland environments and to sustain farming.
James Hepburne Scott, chairman of Tweed Forum said; “An organisation formed to solve a single problem 25 years ago has grown to be one of the most recognised river trusts, not just in the UK, but globally.”