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River Keepers

PEOPLE across Plymouth are invited to channel the city’s pioneering spirit in an environmental project to enhance local streams and outdoor spaces.

Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) is, initially, calling on residents who live, or work, in Ernesettle, Tamerton Foliot, Southway, Whitleigh, Widewell, Honicknowle, Derriford West and Crownhill, and Manadon and Widey to take action to support nature on their doorsteps as part of its Plymouth Rivers Keepers (PRK) project.

PRK project officer Jenny Wytcherley from WRT said: “2020 marks 400 years since the first settlers sailed from Plymouth to the New World.

“Through PRK, we want people to discover a new world a stone’s throw from where they live, in the streams at the bottom of their gardens and ends of their roads.

“To discover what people love about where they live and how they think their parks, woods or streams could be better, we have developed a fun, interactive online survey map to gather all their ideas and suggestions.”

By taking part in the survey, people and community groups in these locations will directly influence the work of the three-year project, which has the potential to undertake community work such as litter/ debris removal; invasive non-native plant species removal; improvement of bankside erosion to improve river access; targeted coppicing to reduce shading of water and investigation into barriers to fish passage.

The Bioregional Learning Centre (BLC), which works in South Devon to plan a region-wide response to climate resilience, is supporting the project by gathering people’s stories about where they live.

Isabel Carlisle, director at BLC said: “We have seen during lockdown the value people have placed on their outdoor green spaces and they are getting to know their local areas better.

“By hearing the stories of place from those who live in the area, we are coming to understand just how special those places are and we are keen to find ways for more people to access and take care of their local streams.”

Community events planned for the project will be arranged as soon as it is safe to do so for all involved.

Jenny added: “We hope Plymouth residents will embrace this project as it evolves over the next few years, creating a positive on-going legacy that will see natural habitats in urban areas continue to be loved.”

Visit wrt.org.uk/project/plymouth-river-keepers/ to find out more and to take part in the survey.

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