Catchment Restoration in the Tweed UNESCO-IHP HELP Basin - Eddleston Water

Authors and Affiliations: 

Chris Spray1, Tom Ball1, Andrew Black1, Luke Comins2, Debi Garft3, Roy Richardson4 & Alan Werritty1

1University of Dundee; 2 Tweed Forum; 3 Scottish Government; 4 Scottish Environment Protection Agency.


The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires member states to work towards the achievement of ‘good ecological status’ for water bodies, through a 6 year cycle of river basin management plans (RBMPs). Within these RBMPs, states must develop and implement programmes of measures designed to improve the quality of individual water bodies at risk of failing to achieve this status. Recent focus on catchment management however requires efforts to be focussed not only on the key causes of impairment in ecosystem functioning, but increasingly to look to deliver multiple benefits, such as flood risk reduction and improvement to biodiversity from such catchment interventions. In addition, such restoration and conservation strategies increasingly look to involve communities and other stakeholders in restoration of their local environment. This paper reports on progress of a detailed study of the restoration of the Eddleston Water, a typical ‘failing’ water body in Scotland, the monitoring and governance arrangements behind this, and implications for rehabilitation of river systems and the delivery of ecosystem services elsewhere.

Within UK rivers, the main causes of failure to achieve good ecological status are historical morphological changes to river courses, diffuse agricultural pollution and invasive non-native species.  The Eddleston Water is a 70 sq kms sub-catchment of the Tweed, an UNESCO IHP-HELP basin in the Scottish : English borders, and is currently classified as ‘bad’ status, due largely to morphological changes to the course and structure of the river over the past 200 years. The main challenge therefore is physical restoration of the river to achieve functional connectivity with the flood plain. At the same time however, the two communities within the catchment suffer from flooding, so a second priority is to intervene within the catchment to reduce the risk of flooding through the use of “natural flood management” measures. Underlying both these two aspects is a whole catchment approach to community participation and the achievement of a range of other ecosystem service benefits.

We report on the development of a detailed study of a pilot catchment in the Tweed, which has an extensive monitoring network of surface water, groundwater, weather and ecological parameters. As well as detailing the setting up of the comprehensive monitoring network, we cover the initial characterisation of the catchment; the identification of potential key locations and types of intervention to improve ecological status and flood risk reduction; the engagement with local communities and land managers; initial habitat modifications and the early results of the study. We situate this within the wider context of priorities for restoration and potential options for the delivery of multiple benefits in the form of ecosystem services.