What is the Windermere Community Partnership?

Well it’s been an amazing year for the Windermere catchment, if we do say so ourselves.

South Cumbria Rivers Trust received funding from Garfield Weston in October 2022 to set up and develop a Windermere Community Partnership for the communities of the Windermere and Leven catchment. If you don’t know what a community partnership is, let’s start at the beginning.

Catchment Partnerships

South Cumbria Rivers Trust are the Defra appointed host of the South Cumbria Catchment Partnership: Becks to Bay. Catchment Partnerships are set up throughout the country to bring organisations together to make catchment based cohesive environmental plans for an area, in terms of delivery. For example, a few organisations involved in Becks to Bay are Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Freshwater Biological Association, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Environment Agency etc. Catchment plans are based on the catchment based approach which is at its core is collaborative working at a river catchment scale. We deliver a range of environmental, social and economic benefits all to protect our precious water environments for the benefit of all.

So where do community partnerships come in?

South Cumbria Rivers Trust have set up/developed/facilitated a number of community partnerships, under the catchment partnership umbrella, for our catchment areas. We work with the Duddon Rivers Association and Conserving Coniston and Crake (both community partnerships) and ensure work is developed and delivered with communities at a catchment scale. Every community partnership is different and at different stages of development. Some communities want to focus on water quality whereas others want to focus on volunteering activities like Balsam Bashing or habitat improvement work. As a delivery organisation, SCRT support this work in any and every way we know how. We decided to set up a Windermere Community Partnership because we saw a need to bring together the communities of this large catchment to drive improvements at scale.

It’s fantastic that there are so many people and groups of people that want to help our watercourses but sometimes they might need a little help with direction or action or advice…that’s where we come in. We work to drive action at a catchment scale, because if not…are we not just tinkering around the edges?

So what have we done?

Over the last 17 months we have developed the community partnership and carried out a range of activities with the communities of this catchment. These include:

  • A demonstration day of electrofishing, moth trapping, invasive species control leading to a fantastic day interacting with holidaymakers, residents and the public.
  • Organised a number of training courses, including naturalness training, three riverfly courses and otter spotter training.
  • Established a trial monitoring programme on Wilfin beck with the local community, Parish Council and Lancaster University.
  • Developed pledge action documentation for a roll out coming soon…
  • Carried out Balsam Bashing events, electrofishing monitoring and reedbed restoration.
  • Supported the Big Windermere Survey, established links with other action groups and local NGO’s.
  • Created a Windermere community hub with a catchment calendar, resource library and chat spaces.
  • SCRT have facilitated 10 Windermere Community Partnership meetings, with members of other community partnerships invited to share best practice.
  • Organised two drop-in sessions for the community to meet and discuss concerns/ideas for the catchment, including non-mains drainage, invasive species and habitat restoration.
  • Worked with the University of Cumbria, local schools and communities throughout the catchment.

Partnership working really can do so much and drive the improvements we all want to see for our water environments. Our funding comes to a close at the end of March 2024 but we don’t want to end here, we want to keep making improvements and keep this partnership going, so:

Do you have any feedback for us? Do you want to see more/different things happening? How can you help?

Get in contact, we’d love to hear from you.

Written by Rachael Halhead; Projects Support Officer.