Today’s children are tomorrow’s custodians of nature. With Heritage Lottery Funding EMRT is working with partners including the National Trust, Anglian Water, Canal and Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency to establish the first permanent Rivers Academy located at the National Trust’s Belton House.
The initiative has the potential to offer a range of learning-based activities from curriculum-based education to adult training through to children’s summer holiday activities. The concept is a community learning environment in nature where children and adults would be supported to develop understanding and knowledge through exploration and activities in the field.
It is an approach, similar to a Forest School, that supports education and active learning by enabling people of all ages and all backgrounds to reconnect with their environment. The process facilitates children and adults to develop socially as it creates a safe, nurturing environment for learners to get involved and interact with a range of people. The approach aims to build mental well-being as well as knowledge and aims to address both the biodiversity and climate crises.
The initiative will complement and build on EMRT’s existing education programme, which is currently under review as part of the Rivers Academy Business Plan development. This includes undertaking activities such as:
EMRT’s Water Vole Warriors (designed for youth groups such as scouts)
Improving Access to Nature
A report from the Mental Health Foundation outlines how time spent in nature is good for our health and well-being. Moreover it is often the most economically deprived areas that have less availability to good quality public green spaces. A key part of the Rivers for Life Programme will be to improve and establish river (blue) walks, promote non-motorised recreation, create signage and interpretation. It is important that we celebrate the historic and present day importance rivers have in supporting wildlife, businesses and recreation around our towns and villages.
Climate change is felt most powerfully through water, flooding, extreme weather, pollution, and drought. Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years. Drought is on the verge of becoming the next world pandemic.
Furthermore, England’s water is not as secure as people believe. In 2020, the Environment Agency published a National Framework for Water Resources. It showed that if we continue to operate as usual, by 2050, the amount of water available in England could be reduced by 10 to 15 percent, rivers could have between 50 and 80 percent less water during the summer, and we will not be able to meet the demands of people, industry, and agriculture.
The economies of the towns and villages located in the Lower Welland and Witham catchments are heavily dependent on agriculture, which depends on good soils and water availability. With much of the land just above sea level, authorities need to make water security central to all decisions made on planning, housing developments and investment. Improving water stewardship through better resource management and efficiency measures is central to our work with businesses, landowners, farmers and communities.