Restoring the River Bure in Norfolk

A foot bridge over a stream at sunset

We're embarking on our biggest river restoration project to date.

We rely on rivers for so much, but currently only 14% of England’s river catchments are in good health. So, we're setting out to reverse this trend through our "Riverlands" project. Working with the Environment Agency, we’ll be reviving five of the UK’s most precious rivers, including the River Bure in Norfolk.

Why the River Bure is special

There are just over 200 chalk-stream rivers around the world and the River Bure is one of them. Because there are so few of them, it makes the Bure all the more special. 

They are arguably some of our most beautiful rivers too when they’re healthy, with crystal-clear water from underground chalk springs making them the perfect sources of clean water and ideal habitats in which wildlife can thrive, which is why we need to protect them.

Rising in Melton Constable and passing through both the National Trust's Blickling and Felbrigg estates, the River Bure flows into the internationally important Norfolk Broads, which is Britain’s largest designated wetland and a haven for wildlife. 

Historically this river has supported life in the catchment by providing fertile land for farming, water meadows for grazing, power for milling and fisheries for commercial and recreational exploitation. Over time this has reduced the health of the river and the landscape it supports.

Rivers like this one need our help and we need to think long term if we’re really going to make a difference. We all have a role to play, right back to the rivers source. 

What will we be doing?
A kingfisher fishing from its perch

Our pledge to nature

We want our rivers and catchments to be healthy, clean and rich in wildlife. Working with our partners, local landowners and tenants, we’ll be looking to improve water quality and habitats along the river. This will help ease passage for fish and protect endangered species such as the water vole and eel.

A river that's loved and valued by all

Water is an essential part of our daily lives, but it’s good for our health and wellbeing too. With this in mind, we’re looking to improve access to the River Bure so that more people can love and value its heritage and natural beauty, which can significantly affect the way we feel.

Building a better future

Intensive agriculture, development pressures and the effects of climate change all take their toll on rivers. As a result 13% of freshwater and wetland species are now threatened with extinction from Britain. The more we understand the role that rivers play in our lives, the more we’ll care for them in the long term. 

Latest updates

01 Apr 22

A more natural profile

As part of the ongoing Riverlands project on the Scarrow Beck at Aldborough we have been working to provide rivers and catchments that are healthy, clean and rich in wildlife. With help from The Water Management Alliance, the once incised river channel has now been opened out creating a more natural profile to the bank. The addition of wood into the river channel will help scour and clean the gravel bed, improving habitat for invertebrate and fish communities, including the brook lamprey seen along the reach.

two images showing before and after the river was opened up

28 Feb 22

Greening Aldborough group lend a hand

Rivers and their surrounding areas are a rich source of beauty and wonder. They connect people and communities, providing a sense of identity and joy in people’s lives. As part of a forthcoming river restoration project on the Scarrow Beck we have been working with a local community group to not only provide rivers and catchments that are healthy, clean and rich in wildlife, but to ensure they are easily accessed, valued and loved. The Greening Aldborough group have been lending a hand on the banks of the Scarrow Beck to clear bankside vegetation ahead of work to reprofile the banks and improve the river channel to benefit invertebrate and fish communities. The stretch of river runs behind the doctors surgery in Aldborough and provides a great opportunity to create space for the community to spend time near water for their enjoyment and wellbeing. Engaging with nature builds connections to our outside spaces that can have positive benefits to our health and quality of life. We want people to discover nature, to access and enjoy more of their local river, feeling a sense of belonging where everyone is welcome.

Volunteers working on the Scarrow Beck at Aldborough

18 Oct 21

Erpingham School visit Scarrow Beck

Riverlands isn’t just good news for nature, the natural environment is vital to people’s quality of life. It offers us fresh air and room to breathe, wildlife to treasure and wilderness to explore. In October school children from Erpingham Primary school explored the newly restored reach of the Scarrow Beck and met some of the creatures that call the river their home. The children gently disturbed the bed of the stream with their feet and using pond dipping nets downstream collected the invertebrates that were living amongst the gravels and riverbed. The invertebrates were carefully moved into a pond dipping tray and the children attempted to identify the different species and learn more about them before returning them safely to the river.

A frog watches a working party of Riverlands volunteers at Aldborough