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River restoration project secures £2 million from National Lottery

River Rye at Low Locker by Liz BassindaleRiver Rye at Low Locker by Liz Bassindale

Heritage Lottery Fund LogoRyevitalise Logo

A partnership led by the North York Moors National Park Authority has successfully secured nearly £2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a four-year project to improve water quality and restore biodiversity along the River Rye and its tributaries.

The Ryevitalise project will cover a huge area of 413km2, spanning from the Cleveland Hills in the west of the North York Moors to the area around Hovingham in the Howardian Hills. This region also encompasses the rivers Seph and Riccal, meaning these too will benefit from work to reduce diffuse pollution, control invasive species, restore ancient woodland and establish wildlife corridors. Of particular interest are species including the rare and mysterious Alcathoe bat, which makes its home in woodland around the Rye, and the white-clawed crayfish, threatened by reduced water quality and aggressive, non-native species.

Briony Fox, Director of Conservation at the North York Moors National Park Authority said:

“We are absolutely delighted with this news and would like to thank players of the National Lottery who have made it possible.”

“The funding will allow us to work with local people, farmers and community groups to help them take ownership of the region’s rivers, ensuring these rich ecosystems teem with life for many generations to come.”

“We’ll also be creating lots of opportunities for volunteer involvement, enabling people to learn practical conservation skills, and the project will employ six core members of staff, along with a graduate trainee and two apprentices.”

Ryevitalise projects will cover three themes:

  • Water quality and environment – restoring and conserving the aquatic habitats of the Rye and the rare and threatened species that the river and wider landscape supports.
  • Water Level Management – harnessing natural flood processes to create a more naturally functioning river.
  • Reconnecting people – improving understanding of the river landscape by telling the story of its evolution and encouraging people to protect their heritage.

Education and community engagement will be central to the project, with schools given fieldwork and classroom opportunities to learn more about their local rivers, wildlife and connections to local history. There will also be a programme of expert talks, exhibitions and discovery events.

David Renwick, Area Director for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, North of England, said:

“Landscape and nature form the bedrock of our culture and heritage and funding it is one of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s key priorities for the next 5 years. Communities across the UK are becoming increasingly disconnected from their natural environments and never has it been more urgent to aid nature's recovery.

This is a fantastic scheme, built on a strong partnership that aims to revitalise the Rye’s heritage by restoring large swathes of waterways in and around the North York Moors while reconnecting people to the river landscape around them so that everyone – people, wildlife, and cultural heritage – all benefit thanks to players of the National Lottery.”

Ryevitalise is a Landscape Partnership scheme, meaning it is also supported by the North York Moors National Park Authority and other collaborators. The total project value is £3.4 million. For more information, please visit


Media contact

Nina Beadle, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority

01439 772700

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 7.9 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

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

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