> River Eden


River Eden River Eden


The overall goal of the River Eden case is to implement catchment scale planning and land use change to help manage river flows - both floods and droughts - in an ecologically sustainable way.

The River Eden catchment, approximately 2,300 km2, is located in North West England. The river flows over limestone, sandstone and volcanic geologies giving it a broad range of ecological conditions. It has Special Area of Conservation (SAC) status, for Atlantic salmon, white-clawed crayfish, bullheads, three species of lamprey, water crowfoots and otter. The Eden catchment is also important as a water resource for domestic and industrial use, as an area of agricultural production (90% of the catchment) and as an attraction for tourism.

Sustainable land use change means that the solutions contribute to protecting the future ecological value of the river and that they are self-managing and do not require costly ongoing investments or long-term maintenance.

River Eden River Eden


According to some climate change predictions there will be an increase in both the future risk of floods and low river flows in North West England. In 2005, severe floods occurred in the Eden catchment causing estimated damages of £350 million in the city of Carlisle alone. Conversely, in 2003, low river flows put pressure on the region’s water supplies. Low flows can also cause problems for river ecology such as increased sedimentation of fish spawning gravels, lower oxygen levels, reduced potential to dilute pollution, and higher water temperature. As a Natura 2000 site, it is important that the Eden finds innovative solutions which address both these future risks. The linkage between land use change and both flooding and low flows is regularly raised by stakeholders as one possible solution. However, evidence and tools to demonstrate that this is the case are still lacking.

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River Eden River Eden


Planned measures in River Eden catchment:

  • Innovative models will be developed and applied to the River Eden system to explore the impact of land use changes on both extreme high river flows and low river flows.
  • Based on the modelled outputs, a coordinated catchment stakeholder approach will deliver land use changes for managing river flows while maintaining and balancing other important functions such as agriculture and nature.

Education, skills training and awareness raising work will be carried out with the local community to enhance solidarity within the catchment and ensure public involvement in the project. As land use changes will be required in upstream areas on private agricultural land, it will be crucial develop effective compensation measures.


project by ALFA partner(s):

Eden River Trust