The Catchment Communities Conference, on Friday 19 October 2018, brought together community representatives, land owners and managers, and practitioners from the East Devon Catchment Partnership with a view to working together for the future health of the river catchments of the Axe (including Yarty), Otter, Culm and Clyst.

Start Date: 19/10/2018 End Date: 19/10/2018

What happened at the Catchment Communities Conference

  • Neil Parish MP gave the key note speech, setting the context for our East Devon catchments and highlighting the opportunities to work together in partnership.
  • A range of interest groups including farmers, farm advisory projects, community action groups, species recovery projects and angling groups spoke about their work – great examples of the breadth of projects and action already underway in our catchments
  • Delegates shared their knowledge and success stories and came up with fresh ideas for collaborative projects. There were three workshops identifying the big issues affecting our catchments, exploring solutions together and networking to forge alliances.
  • Following the conference, some of the delegates took part in an hour-long tour of the grounds of Deer Park Country House and the River Otter.

The passion, drive and enthusiasm of the delegates was very clear on the day. Delegates were keen to focus on ways of working together to drive existing projects and initiatives forward and develop new projects, including those led by individual communities or developed through the East Devon Catchment Partnership (who hosted the conference).

Photo: Tom Lindsay


Conference presentations


The nature of the East Devon Catchment Partnership – Peter Burgess

Five-minute energiser talks highlighting examples of projects and good practice:

Wood for water – Roland Stonex

Upstream Thinking – David Smith

Natural Flood Management – Sam Walker

Natural Flood Management – Jon Bond

Engaging schools – Culm Community Crayfish project – Cat Farnell

Beaver project – Mark Elliott


Main outputs from the workshops

Workshop A – Identifying the issues

Delegates were asked “what are the issues that affect you and your river catchment community?”.

This question was discussed using the topic headings:

  1. flood/drought
  2. water quality
  3. invasive and non-native species
  4. built developments
  5. Other e.g. fish passage, biodiversity

Delegates then voted on their top issues.

Workshop A – word cloud – shows the main issues identified during this workshop.

Photo: Tom Lindsay


Workshop B: Exploring solutions together

In pairs or individually delegates were asked to complete a worksheet exploring their idea of a ‘river utopia’, what their organisation might be able to do, projects that are already underway and areas they are seeking help with.

Then in groups, they drew together this information into large maps of the river catchment.

We have now summarised this information using a map and a table (see below).

24 ‘hot-spot’ areas have been identified where work is already underway, where action is needed to achieve the ‘utopia’ or where people have pledged support.

Large maps annotated by delegates:

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

Map 4



Map summarising workshop B

Table summarising workshop B

Workshop B – worksheet

Workshop C: Networking and forging alliances

Delegates had the opportunity to share their ideas for how they’d like to engage with the East Devon Catchment Partnership projects, and to network with the morning’s speakers and each other.

Workshop C – summary captures the main ‘big ideas’ discussed during this session.

Catchment Communities Conference – group shot

Call for action

We are keen to work together to focus on as many of the 24 ‘hot-spot’ areas (see workshop B) as possible and to continue discussions.

  • Are you interested in being involved or even being a ‘champion’ for one or more of the 24 hot-spot areas identified? If so, which one(s) and what aspect(s)?
  • Are there common themes across several of the areas identified that you would like to develop or be involved with? For example river-fly monitoring.

Please contact Tim Youngs or 01823 680681 in the first instance.


Catchment Communities Conference in pictures


The Catchment Communities Conference was organised by East Devon Catchment Partnership and Blackdown Hills AONB, and sponsored by:


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