Simon Evans

Wye & Usk Foundation

How to save rivers? Look beyond its riverbanks!

After visiting a lot of government bodies, I visited my first NGO, The Wye and Usk Foundation. The name already tells you a lot. There are a NGO that have the daunting task of preserving and rehabilitate the Wye and Usk rivers. On the helm of the Why foundation stands CEO Simon Evans. THe person that showed me around and told me everything there is to learn about the foundations and there methods. Simon mentioned they are quite the innovative group, which leads them to think outside the river. Providing solution to rivers restoration and preservation.

If we go back in time for the moment the river Wye and Usk where one of the most pristine rivers for spring fisheries. Catching a whopping 2000 salmonid species with an average of 10 kg. Within 14 years this is declined in to low 300 and only small fish. This is why in 1995 by three riparian owners started the Wye & Usk Foundation. Aimed at restoring the fishery and ecosystem to a sustainable level. First they started to science the heck out of the river. There conclusion was that only 12% of the catchment was still in a condition to support a healthy salmon population. So between 1996 and 2016 the Why & Usk Foundation has focused their efforts to: decreased salmon exploitation, restored riparian habitat and balanced the acidity in water.

Phosphate is now the biggest threat to the catchment of the river Wye. Phosphate is a natural occurrence in a river-ecosystem. However when there is to much of the substance, generally speaking because of outside sources a reduction of dissolved oxygen takes place cause for an unbalance in the water and the river-ecosystem. Clear indicators of to much phosphate in a river is algae bloom. Phosphate is easily runoff in to the river because the river banks are directly connected with potential risk of runoff. For example: chemicals stored on a concrete slab next to the river or; livestock grazing river bank clean and when it rains the field and animal waste get flushed, exactly like a toilet, into the river.

Another problem is that the field get sucked dry by the potato, corn,asparagus, cherries, etc. What happens is that the first layer of an field is full of water, but only 1m-2m down the soil is completely dry. The result of that is that when it rains it runs across the top and it takes it soil into the river. With good farming praktisches the water stays in the land  and gives groundwater recharge. The good practices, simply put is that rain does not wash of the farmers lands. The Wye & Usk Foundation provides tools to assess the risk of water runoff and manage a field accordingly.

The solution is to work together: basic flow of regulation, effective knowledge transfer of good practice and rewarding farmers for good praktische. So how this works is that the Wye & Usk Foundation has manage to change some farmers, the early adopters. Farmers that were not hesitated to change their praktische to benefit nature and them self. These early adopters shared the success with their neighbors and other farmers in the area. The early adopters now share the knowledge to other farmers in the area. As an result farmers get more yield of out of there harvest. 

Improving the fisheries, sustainability and profitability of farmers and reduce  greenhouse gas emissions. The Wye & Usk Foundation believes that climate change can be solved in the soil. Cleaning up the rivers and produce more food