Rationale for CRP

In common with the rest of the UK, the riverine environment in Cornwall continues to be threatened and often adversely impacted both directly and indirectly by a variety of activities that combine to reduce and degrade natural ecosystems.

Damage to the mainly rural catchment areas in Cornwall has resulted largely from changing land use patterns over the past thirty years or so. This is a local manifestation of a linkage between land use and corresponding impact on rivers that has been confirmed by scientific studies world-wide.

Much of this deterioration has been led unintentionally by national and supranational fiscal change, land use policy and technical developments far from the point of application. In many cases these changes have not only undermined the sustainable use of natural resources but also failed to provide sustainable income to the rural economy.

River corridors, the elements of which comprise the river channel together with the adjacent floodplain and/or footslopes, form a crucially important component of the landscape. Intact river marginal wetlands are known to perform valuable functions as buffer zones for environmental protection of watercourses.

The WRT has identified at least three major barriers which are restricting progress on protecting Cornwall's river heritage

  • A lack of community involvement and partnership to help draw together the owners of land and water rights with regulatory, technical, conservation and other interests. This has the effect of causing opposition and delay to progress.
  • The absence of sound, practical, economic and integrated advice on sustainable land use practices and a "methodology" which readily encourages uptake. This is recognised as an international problem that has resulted in a slow rate of change in improved management of natural resources.
  • There is no single statutory body responsible for wetlands in the UK and no specific policy and coherent strategy for wetland management. While responsibility falls upon a number of well intentioned and concerned bodies, none of these seem to be able to offer a holistic approach or effective co-ordination.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust believes it to be imperative that remedial action is taken, as a matter of urgency, to begin the process of restoring and protecting Cornwalls freshwater heritage so that it can be of sustainable benefit to the local community. Cornwall Rivers Project has been designed to bring about these results in a way which have positive environmental, economic and social outcomes.