Contact us

For the Tamar & Barnstaple Yeo catchments, & the Grazing Links and Machinery Officer please contact:

Working Wetlands
Devon Wildlife Trust
Cookworthy Forest Centre
EX21 5UX
Telephone: 01409 221823 

For the Otter, the Exe & the Dart catchments & the Water Specialist please contact:

Working Wetlands
Devon Wildlife Trust
Unit 2, Alden's Business Court
Chudleigh Road
Telephone 01392 948411



Upstream Thinking & the Working Wetlands project

River Otter from Cadhay Bridge

What's good for water is good for wildlife

Good water use and clean water supplies are important for everyone and for every farm business. How farmland is managed can have a huge impact on our water supplies.

Upstream Thinking is South West Water’s multi-award-winning approach to keeping our drinking and bathing water clean and affordable by stopping pollutants entering our rivers and streams.  

Working with a range of partners, including Devon Wildlife Trust, the programme supports farmers who are ‘upstream’ of key water supplies with grants and advice so that they can manage their business with clean water and a healthy natural environment in mind.

Through this programme, Devon Wildlife Trust’s Working Wetlands project is providing confidential, expert advice and practical solutions to farmers in six Devon catchments. The project has been working with farmers for more than ten years and our advisors understand farming and the challenges farmers face.  

Upstream Thinking catchment map

Working with farmers

Hay spreading Working Wetlands Advisers are working with landowners to address potential sources of pollution on farm with the aim of protecting water quality and restoring important wildlife habitats.

Restored species-rich wet grasslands, often marginal to a working farm, act as natural filters to capture soil particles and nutrients from fertilisers before they reach rivers and reservoirs, thereby acting as effective buffers between agricultural practice and the water course.

An additional benefit of this kind of restoration is an increase in the capacity of the habitat to store water, thus relieving downstream flooding risk as well as reducing soil erosion and diffuse pollution.

So restoring our species-rich wet grasslands will, in turn, improve the water quality in our rivers.

What we can offer

DWT machinery dealing with soil compaction to reduce run-off

We are helping landowners with reducing pesticide use, riverside fencing, prevention of run-off, soil management and habitat restoration. We do this by offering free advice and support with applications to the new Countryside Stewardship scheme as well as being able to offer some capital grants for work which meets the project objectives.

Advisers from our partners Westcountry Rivers Trust will be focusing their efforts on improvements to farm infrastructure such as pesticide handling areas, biobeds/ biofilters, improvements to slurry storage and nutrient management – all with the help of capital grants.


Supported by South West Water

Fernworthy reservoirSouth West Water will benefit at least a £12m return on a £1m investment as well as lower treatment costs. Clean water supply reduces the need for expensive chemical filtration, which in turn will benefit consumers – you and me!

Work is being undertaken to assess the value of specific natural services delivered by the restored habitat. Preliminary results are very encouraging; the restoration work is expected to bring water resource and carbon storage values in excess of £9 million.

Wildlife is benefiting, too, through additional habitat created for the nationally scarce marsh fritillary butterfly and important breeding populations of curlew and willow tit.

How we work

Find out more or get involved

For more information contact the Project Advisors - email or find phone number and address details in the Contact us box on the left hand side of this page.


Watch the film

View the 10 minute project video which gives more information about Upstream Thinking and the Working Wetlands project.  


Further resources

Working Wetlands: 1 Advice note - Culm grasslands

Working Wetlands: 2 Advice note - Managing culm grasslands

Working Wetlands: 3 Advice note - Scrub management

Working Wetlands: 4 Advice note - Managing rushes

Working Wetlands: 5 Advice note - Hedge management

Working Wetlands: 6 Advice note - Swaling

Working Wetlands: 7 Advice note - Water and soil management 

Working Wetlands: 8 Advice note - Wet grassland restoration

Working Wetlands: 10 Advice note - Where to find out more information

The Culm: a landscape that works is our most recent summary of all of the work that has been undertaken in recent years.

The economic value of ecosystem services provided by culm grasslands. This report describes how research data has been used to build the first ever picture of the financial value of ecosystem services delivered by culm grassland. 

Working Wetlands; The first 7 years (2008-2015) is a short summary of the work that has been achieved since 2008. 

Culm Grassland: An Assessment of Recent Historic Change has been published to summarise how the landscape and its management has changed in the last couple of decades. 

Culm Grasslands Proof of Concept; Developing an understanding of the hydrology, water quality and soil resources of Unimproved grasslands.

A summary of the research written by DWT; The Ecosystem Services provided by Culm grasslands

To request case studies on habitat restoration contact Steve Payne on Tel: 01409 221823 or email:

Thanks to them 

The Working Wetlands Project began life in 2008. Landowners, organisations, businesses, charitable trusts, grant funders, supporters and local people have all helped Working Wetlands achieve so much. Our thanks go to all of them.

Some of the funders who helped along the way were: Biffa Award, Banister Charitable Trust, Devon Waste Management, Devon County Council, Defra, Environment Agency, GrantScape, Interreg IVA France (Channel) - England, Natural England (Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund), Pipex, Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, South West Water and Tubney Charitable Trust. 

Biffa Award

BIFFA Flagship Award was used to build living landscapes focused on enhancing the connectivity of five core wildlife areas around key wetland nature reserves, within a 25 mile radius of the Biffa site at Tavistock. Marsh fritillary butterflies were used as important indicators of a fragmented landscape.  


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