Nature based solutions
Area of Work:
Natural Climate Solutions
Region: UK
Awards Year: The 2024
Supported by:

It may be strikingly beautiful, but Haweswater in the Lake District is a badly damaged landscape – like many hilly parts of the UK. Artificial drainage channels and hillsides nibbled bare by livestock have raised flood risks downstream, while damage to peatland vegetation left land emitting CO2, rather than capturing it.

For more than a decade, wildlife charity RSPB and water company United Utilities have worked together to restore the site. This includes ‘rewiggling’ stretches of river and connecting them to floodplains, so water nurtures the local area instead of rushing downhill. Grazing by animals has been cut, helping plants thrive.

As well as cleaner water and flood protection for downstream communities, the Wild Haweswater project has created or supported news ways for local people to earn a living, from sustainable farming to eco-tourism. It’s backed by dozens of enthusiastic local volunteers, and is creating chances for young people through an apprenticeship scheme.

Wild Haweswater shows us we can manage our land differently – in a way that brings benefits for people, wildlife and the planet. 87% of England’s peatlands are degraded, damaged and dried out. The team behind Wild Haweswater are reaching out to changemakers – from politicians, farmers and landowners to water company bosses – so they can learn from this inspiring example.

Why is Ashden boosting this solution?

The rate of peatland restoration in the UK is under half that recommended by the UK Committee on Climate Change. By showcasing a range of successful approaches to influential audiences, Wild Haweswater can drive national progress towards that goal.

What’s particularly impressive about this solution is the way it supports the transition to a sustainable economy – and engages visitors and the local community.

For more information on WildHawewater, click here.

Check out the rest of our fantastic winners from the 2024 Ashden Awards here.

Collection of photos of the 2024 Ashden Award winner Wild Haweswater. At the top on the left-hand side is the landscape of hills and a lake. On the right-hand side is a lady putting seedlings into compost. Below is a group of vistors walking on a path with a hill in the background. Below on the left-hand side is a RSPB team member holding up a map. On the right-hand side is a aerial shot of a wiggly river.
At the top on the left-hand side is Haweswater lake. On the right-hand side is Jo Chamberlain, Tree Nursery Officer tending to tree seedlings grown. Below is a group of visiting Dumfries and Galloway farmers. Below on the left-hand side is Annabelle Ruston the RSPB Visitor Experience Officer shows before and after images of the Wild Haweswater project and specifically the rewiggling of Swindale Beck to a group of visiting farmers from Dumfries and Galloway. On the right-hand side is a aerial shot of Rewiggled Swindale Beck river.

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