Connecting people to their river landscape
The ARC project was born out of the desire to help local people to engage with big landscape issues such as pollution, flooding, invasive species, declining wildlife and the increasing detachment of people from nature. The idea of the project is to bring together all the big organisations in the area, to work together to support and empower people to deal with these issues. It brings together Government, charities and councils, and provides a means of delivering multiple community projects across the river landscape.
ARC covered the Arun & Western Rother river catchments, and an area of 77,000 hectares. The project was Heritage Lottery Funded from 2012 to December 2016. ARC encouraged local stewardship of the river environment and delivered a vast range of local projects including :-
- Major works to help fish move up rivers
- Community rain gardens to help people reduce local flooding
- Over 16 km of river and chalk stream restoration
- Large areas of wildlife habitat restoration including; fen, reedbed, floodplain meadow, woodland and wet heath.
- Surveys and removal of non-native invasive aquatic plants and an invasive species strategy linked to the SDNPA
- Activities and events to help people to learn about water and their river such as the Riverfly parntership.
- A wetlands education programme (for 64 primary schools in the project area) including a new educational rivers pack
- A report on 9 of the ecosystem servicesprovided by the catchment and some of the ARC projects
- A Habitat Potential Model which predicts the best locations to restore 9 priority wetland habitats in the face of climate change
- Access and visitor improvements at three nature reserves
- River clean ups, angling and canoe taster days, oral history workshops and photography workshops for teens
- The creation of a special new phone App to help local people monitor their wildlife http://arcexplorer.org.uk/
- Landowner advice and engagement
- A broad volunteering programme including Riversearch and PondNet training & a volunteer strategy
The ARC Project was a Partnership between Sussex Wildlife Trust, RSPB, South Downs National Park Authority, West Sussex County Council, Environment Agency, the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust and Natural England.
For more information see the Arun & Western Streams Catchment Partnership website. The ARC project is now closed, however there are resources available on the website.
The ARC project was nominated for four National awards. The project won the National Park Protector Award, and came runner up in the UK Charity Awards (Environment and Conservation Section) and the Ciria Big Biodiversity Challenge Community Engagement Award. We are awaiting the results of the CIEEM awards.