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Innovative Wildlife Scheme on the River Rye Secures Heritage Lottery Funding Support

The Lower part of the Rye at Nunnington Bridge - Credit Liz BassindaleThe Lower part of the Rye at Nunnington Bridge - Credit Liz Bassindale

A £2m grant to support Ryevitalise, a project to revitalise the River Rye’s heritage, has been given initial approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership programme, it was announced today. The North York Moors National Park has secured this grant working with a number of partnership members, land owners and local communities.

The funding will help understand and enhance the Rye’s verdant valleys and clear waters which have been prized for millennia for their beauty and tranquillity resulting in a more natural, better functioning and better understood landscape. The River Rye and its tributaries rise on the moorland of the North York Moors, flowing through fast/clear upland streams that carve out steep river valleys until the land flattens and the river becomes slower and broader taking on the character of the undulating Howardian Hills and the flat lowlands of the Vale-of-Pickering.

Ryevitalise projects will cover four themes, Water Environment, looking at aquatic habitats of the Rye and rare and threatened species, Water Quality, working with land-owners and managers to reduce pollution, Water Level Management, working alongside North Yorkshire County Council to harness natural processes to manage the sources and pathways of flood waters and Reconnecting People; improving the understanding of the river landscape by telling the story of its evolution and encouraging people to protect their heritage.

Providing excellent opportunities for volunteer involvement, Ryevitalise will enable people to learn practical conservation skills and enjoy a range of well-being benefits. The scheme builds on the National Park’s training of young people through its apprenticeship programmes, with four new apprenticeships resulting directly from the project.

The scheme will engage with 19 primary schools and four secondary schools allowing the next generation to discover the functions of the river landscape past and present. Children can share data and carry out river investigations across the catchment. The scheme will  literally bring the river into the classroom, giving over 1000 children the opportunity to study the lifecycle of the Brown Trout - keeping a watchful eye as the eggs develop until it's time to release them back into the river. And as part of the Young Angler initiative, 40 young people will be able to develop angling skills along with the social skills and confidence that comes from meeting new people.

David Renwick, Director of Conservation at the North York Moors National Park said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this news and would like to thank the players of the National Lottery who have made this possible. The funding will allow us to work with local people, farmers and community groups to help them take ownership of the River Rye and to take action to secure its future. A future of abundant wildlife – bats, crayfish, otter and clouds of mayfly, of rich landscape full of tradition and poetry - and to share and tell stories of its past to inform it’s future. Water is at the heart of the Rye landscape, its watercourses form the area’s arteries and we hope to explore how water links us to it and how it sustains local culture and the environment.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:

“Our historic landscapes are incredibly important to people’s wellbeing and need to be protected. Some of the landscapes we are funding today are in the most remote parts of the UK; others form an important backdrop to some of our largest cities.  What they all have in common is the potential to make people’s lives better, which is why they are so richly deserving of National Lottery money.”

A development grant of £275k has been awarded by HLF to enable the partnership to develop its plans and seek final approval for the full grant amount of £2m at a later date.

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Media contact

Tel: 01439 772700

Alison Harris, Media and Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority

River Rye  - Blow Gill - Hawnby - Credit Paul D Hunter, NYMNPA

Notes to editors

The North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952 it became Britain’s sixth national park. Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres) the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 7.6 million visitors a year.

The National Park has two visitor centres, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centre, providing opportunities for cycling, walking, eating, picnicking, shopping, crafts and wildlife-watching. The centre in Danby also houses the Inspired by… gallery, which features regularly changing exhibitions by artists who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.

The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire, providing apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families.

To view other press releases and for further information about the North York Moors National Park, visit

Key scheme partners:

  • East Yorkshire Rivers Trust
  • English Heritage
  • Environment Agency
  • Forestry Commission
  • Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • National Trust
  • Natural England
  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Ryedale District Council
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Find out more at or on twitter @heritagelottery For more information please contact: Katie Owen, HLF Press Office, on 020 7591 6036/07973 613820.

HLF’s Landscape Partnership (LP) programme operates a two-stage grant approval process. Today’s announcement means that money has been set aside by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the scheme. The applicant initially receives development funding, then progresses to the second round and submits a further, fully-developed application to secure the full award. This early level of strong financial commitment means that Landscape Partnership projects can move forward with the assurance that funding for their scheme is in place provided that their final proposals fully meet the programme's criteria.

HLF’s Landscape Partnerships are helping bring together members of the community as well as local, regional, and national organisations to deliver schemes which benefit some of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes and rural communities. Grants range from £100,000 up to £3m. The next closing date for LP applications is May 2017.  

The Howardian Hills AONB

The Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) stretches from Helmsley and Coxwold on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, down to Kirkham Priory and the River Derwent. It was recognised as a nationally important landscape and was designated as an AONB in 1987.

The landscape consists mainly of rolling wooded hills, with a patchwork of arable and pasture fields. One of the most noticeable features is the number of large country houses and their designed parkland landscapes.

The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) is a charity that provides a strong collective voice for the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Its objectives are to promote the conservation and enhancement of AONBs, advance the education, understanding and appreciation by the public of AONBs, and promote the efficiency and effectiveness of those promoting or representing AONBs, other Protected Areas and those areas for which designation might be pursued. It does this by taking a collaborative and partnership based approach to working with our membership and other organisations at a national level to achieve shared goals.  

Other quotes:

East Yorkshire Rivers Trust:

The East Yorkshire Rivers Trust have been proud to be an active partner of the Ryevitalise group for some time. The planning and visionary aspirations of the group for the Rye catchment have gained support from the HLF and the Trust is looking forward to working within the Ryevitalise team to fulfil the aims and improvements for the area. John Shannon, East Yorkshire Rivers Trust

Environment Agency:

The Environment Agency are both privileged and excited to be involved with this project that will help to improve the water quality, biodiversity and water level management of the River Rye and its many tributaries. By working together across a large area, and taking a catchment based approach, the project partners will be able to deliver practical solutions on the ground that will result in multiple benefits for one of Yorkshire’s special river systems. Duncan Fyfe, Catchment Co-ordinator Derwent, Esk and Coast Environment Agency

Forestry Commission:

We are very excited to hear that the National Park has been successful with its fantastic Ryevitalise bid to HLF. The project has scope to create a vibrant natural environment whilst at the same time reducing the flood risk in our area. As one of the key partners in this project we are looking forward to working with the National Park to make this project a great success. Petra Young, Forestry Commission

Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

This promises to be one of the largest schemes that h-as ever been delivered in the Howardian Hills. The River Rye is a fantastic but largely unexplored part of the AONB – tranquil and rich in both wildlife and heritage. This project will make some of the stories of the river more accessible to local people and visitors, as well as helping land managers in farming sympathetically along its banks. Paul Jackson, Howardian Hills AONB Manager

Natural England:

We are really pleased to be involved in this great project. Ryevitalise represents a fantastic opportunity for a wide range of partners and local communities to work together to deliver truly integrated outcomes at a landscape scale. This programme will protect, enhance and connect the important wetland, woodland and grassland habitats of the Rye, supporting key species such as the Alcathoe bat and white-clawed crayfish, improving water quality and water level management, and also reconnect people with the natural and cultural heritage of the river landscape. It is really rewarding to work with partners who share such a strong, clear vision for this important natural and cultural heritage and who have the desire to put local people at the heart of this exciting project.  Dr Jenny Craven, Natural England.

National Trust:

The National Trust are very excited to hear that the River Rye HLF bid has been successful; congratulations to all involved. Our properties of Nunnington Hall and Rievaulx Terrace are both located in Ryedale by this wonderful river. We wholeheartedly support any projects which will improve habitats, diversity, manage water levels and improve and monitor water quality on the Rye and its catchment area. We are proud to be involved with so many other organisations all working together to secure and improve this very special corner of Yorkshire. Nick Fraser, National Trust

North Yorkshire County Council:

This is an inspiring example of local people and partner organisations coming together to improve and enjoy the River Rye’s spectacular landscape heritage. The Ryevitalise project will build on the excellent work undertaken through the Slowing the Flow project. Cllr Don MacKenzie, Executive Member for Access to the Countryside, North Yorkshire County

Ryedale District Council:

Securing this funding to counteract the steady decline of the beautiful River Rye is wonderful news both for the people of the district and the habitats and species that depend on the river system Cllr Linda Cowling, Leader of Ryedale District Council.