River chiefs catch a finalist’s trophy

Tweed Forum director Luke Comins (centre) and trustee Prof Chris Spray (right) with their finalists trophy, alongside Prof Bill Dennison, chairman of the judging panel.
Tweed Forum director Luke Comins (centre) and trustee Prof Chris Spray (right) with their finalists trophy, alongside Prof Bill Dennison, chairman of the judging panel.

Tweed Forum representatives returned from Australia this week after winning a finalist’s trophy in the Thiess International River Prize.

One of four rivers to make it through to the final of one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards, the River Tweed was pipped to the post by the San Antonio River in Texas. The award is presented annually by the International River Foundation and previous winners include the River Niagara, the Rhine and the Danube.

The Tweed had made it through to the final four in recognition of the unique partnership approach developed by the Tweed Forum in order to protect and conserve the natural, built and cultural heritage of the river and its 5,000 sq km catchment.

James Hepburne Scott, Tweed Forum chairman, said: “To be chosen as a finalist for this important global award is a monumental milestone in the history of Tweed Forum.

“It is hugely rewarding that the forward-thinking blueprint for cooperative working developed by our organization, and the results we have all achieved, has received this kind of recognition.”

The work of the Tweed Forum’s partnership with farmers, foresters, landowners, ghillies and public and private sector bodies on both sides of the Border has delivered significant benefits in river restoration, habitat management, improved water quality, the protection and enhancement of fish stocks, flood management and tourism and recreational opportunities.

This has been achieved through initiatives such as tree planting and woodland management, and pond and wetland creation.

The Tweed Forum was represented at the 2017 International River Symposium in Brisbane by director Luke Comins and trustee, Professor Chris Spray.

The Tweed Forum also runs educational initiatives including school visits, field trips and talks, and works with statutory agencies and policy makers to improve legislation and shape policies to help manage land and water assets across the whole country. The organisation’s work led to UNESCO recognition in 2009, and the receipt of the first UK Rivers Prize in 2015.

Professor Bill Dennison, chair of the Thiess International River Prize jury said; “This year we received a record number of submissions, and the overall quality of the submissions has been higher than ever.

“The finalists represent a stellar selection of river management efforts from around the world.

“From the restoration efforts in the River Tweed in Scotland to the conservation efforts for the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers in the remote Alaskan wilderness, to urban river restoration in the Pasig River in the Philippines and the San Antonio River in Texas, these different river stories are united by a common theme: excellence in river management.”