Water Works Project Awarded £1 million by People's Postcode Lottery

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire working with partners Cambridgeshire ACRE, the University of East London and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has been awarded £1 million by the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund beating more than 200 competitors to be one of only three projects funded in the UK.

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire working with partners Cambridgeshire ACRE, the University of East London and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has been awarded £1 million by the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund beating more than 200 competitors to be one of only three projects funded in the UK.

The award was made at a Charity Gala in Edinburgh on Thursday 14 March attended by George and Amal Clooney, Kenyan human rights campaigner Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and by charity partners, supporters, and winners of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The Dream Fund award is for a two year project called Water Works which aims to change the face of farming in the Cambridgeshire Fens now and in the future, and transform how people work together through the creation of a UNESCO Fens Biosphere.

The Dream Fund supports imaginative solutions to world problems through the creation of sustainable systems. Water Works addresses the problem of the loss of peat soils in the fens which blow away and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (so contributing to climate change) when they dry out. Over the next two years Water Works will create field scale trials of wetland farming at the Wildlife Trust's Great Fen to test innovative new crops for food, healthcare and industry, and to lock in carbon.  A large part of the project will be working with local farmers, food producers and landowners to create and test this new way of farming and to share lessons learned along the way.

Water Works will also create a new way for all sectors of society to share learning and to work together for a sustainable future. It will develop an application to UNESCO to gain Biosphere status for the Fens so elevating the Fens to a global network of 686 Biospheres in 122 countries that includes The Everglades, the Black Forest, Mount Olympus and the Hawaiian Islands.

The Water Works project will start on 1 April 2019 and run for two years.

Great Fen Project Manager Kate Carver said: “Winning the Dream Fund means we can influence the future, creating a change in course and behaviour here and now,  changing lives and livelihoods,  protecting our precious natural resources, so  benefiting everyone , all of us, who depend upon a healthy planet. We have the solution almost in reach and this funding will help us to realize our dream.”

Great Fen Restoration Manager Lorna Parker said: “The Water Works project could be truly transformative for future generations farming in the Fens, creating new sources of income for farmers, protecting food supplies and the natural environment, and combatting climate change.”

Mark Nokkert, Cambridgeshire ACRE, said: “We have the solution to do things differently; we can show what the fens can achieve by bringing the right partnerships together and going forward in a sustainable way.”

Jack Clough, University of East London, said: “The Waterworks project provides a Dream opportunity to develop wetland farming in the Fens. This new method of farming will help to avoid future carbon emissions from peat soils, and lead to new products and markets for farmers. We cannot wait to demonstrate to the wider community both locally and globally that wetland farming will deliver genuine benefit for people and the environment.”

Water Works Partner Logos

Carbon farming: how agriculture can both feed people and fight climate change

Find out more

The Great Fen Project

Find out more

Great Fen - Woodwalton Fen 

Cambridgeshire ACRE  www.cambsacre.org.uk/

Beadamoss Micropropagation Services Ltd   www.beadamoss.co.uk/page8.html

UNESCO Biosphere   www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/man-and-biosphere-programme/

More on the Water Works Partnership

A special Water Works Partnership has been created to deliver the project, bringing together the peat, the people and the science.

The Wildlife Trust is a specialist in sustainable conservation; the Great Fen has the precious peatland soils where the field trials of the new wetland farming will be carried out. Water Works is supported by the best and most innovative science; the University of East London are experts in wetland farming and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are experts in climate change monitoring, soils and water. Cambridgeshire ACRE are experts in communication and community partnership building, both vital for a successful UNESCO Biosphere status application.

Water Works will also be working with wetland plant propagation experts Beadamoss Micropropagation Services Ltd.