Ryevitalise is an ambitious, aspirational and achievable scheme with a vision to conserve, enhance and restore the natural and cultural heritage of the area, enabling people to reconnect with the history, wildlife and landscapes of the River Rye and its tributaries.
The Ryevitalise area incorporates 413km2 of the western Rye catchment, including the Rivers Seph and Riccal. The area demonstrates a coherent landscape unified by the river corridors in terms of both character and functionality, and at a scale that will have the most meaningful and sustainable impact. The ambition for the Partnership is to establish the Rye as a basis for common action: to see the river and the flow of water as a unifying element which joins communities, heritage and wildlife together. Implementation of this ideal will be threefold, each theme derived from the River:
- Water Quality and Environment – working with land managers to improve 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; and
- Reconnecting People – improving understanding of the river landscape by telling the story of its evolution and encouraging people to protect their heritage.
A fourth cross-cutting theme, Programme Management, will deliver the staffing, training and volunteering, and monitoring and evaluation elements.
Through extensive consultation and collaboration, the partnership has identified ten objectives under these themes, which when delivered will secure a lasting and positive change. During the four-year delivery phase, Ryevitalise will:
- Improve water quality and natural function of the River Rye and its tributaries by reducing sedimentation and diffuse pollution from agriculture and rural land-use activities, and in turn, benefit aquatic species and the natural function of the river.
- Develop a deeper knowledge of key native species, including Alcathoe bat and white-clawed crayfish, educate, encourage and promote appropriate land management and habitat restoration, and develop action plans for protection.
- Restore the Rye’s ancient habitats, including a unique approach to ancient woodland restoration focussing on water quality outcomes.
- Engage and re-engage farmers and land managers, to encourage learning and sharing of best practice in order to bring about environmental improvements in the Rye Catchment, reducing water pollution issues, improving resource protection, increasing biodiversity and alleviating flooding.
- Identify and deliver water level management interventions through community engagement and participation.
- Provide opportunities for all who interact with the landscape to appreciate the cultural heritage present in the upper Rye to identify critical interventions to save it.
- Explore how shifts in our perception of landscapes and land use can act powerfully to reconnect people with the nature on their doorstep, and help us to meet our intentions of reviving species abundance and diversity.
- Encourage people to explore the Rye landscape, understand the history of the landscape, and the impact that the river has had on it, share stories, and introduce characters who have lived and worked in this landscape.
- Highlight the importance of rivers and how they shape and influence the landscape and provide habitats for wildlife, by improving physical and virtual access to the river, and through volunteering and learning opportunities.
- Introduce the next generation to the complexities and sensitivities of river ecology and how rivers function, improve understanding of the impact people have through their interactions with the river and how they can care for it in the future, bring together key agencies to promote joint working and understanding.
Nineteen complementary project elements have been identified and developed to deliver the vision and objectives within the three themes. The following sections below outline the proposals for each of the themes and programmes, demonstrating how they will meet the aim and objectives for the scheme.