Nature will receive a helping hand in the River Lyd catchment in Devon after an online auction attracted up £125,000 of proposals from farmers.

Environmental charity Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) initiated a four-week opportunity for farmers to bid for funds in a collaborative project with the Environment Agency (EA) and Sylva Foundation, using the EA’s auction platform NatureBid, to implement positive changes on their land.

Hazel Kendall, head of land management at WRT, said: “This opportunity, which will protect water quality via interventions such as watercourse fencing, field and river buffer strips, woodland planting or soil management, has been very popular, with strong local support resulting in one and a half times the value of bids compared to currently available funds.

“Our farm advisor team is now working with the 15 farmers and landowners whose bids were successful to prioritise activity, as well as seek the potential for more funding as enquiries continue to be received.”

Read more: Funding available from Westcountry Rivers Trust in Lyd area of Devon

Part of the scheme focuses on broad-leaved woodland due to the positives that strategic woodland planting can deliver in catchment towards increasing infiltration and reducing surface run-off, acting as a natural buffer to help filter out or trap contaminants, boost biodiversity and sequester carbon.

From discussions in the Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board (a collaboration of private sector interests) and from evaluation of existing data and supply chains, WRT has been able to demonstrate the value of local strategic woodland planting to Lifton-based food processor Ambrosia (owned by Premier Foods), alongside all the wider benefits this can bring.

This led to Premier Foods to fund the purchase of 16,000 trees to be planted via the NatureBid process in the Lyd catchment this season.

The EA has been monitoring the scheme through Defra’s Environmental Land Management Test & Trial project, which also contributed towards the grant funding pot.

Neil Davies, director of Future Funding at the EA, said: “Nature and climate emergencies mean we need to be far more innovative in how we address environmental challenges.

“Using nature itself to do this has got to be the way forward; these trials are a crucial step along the way in achieving this.”

For more info or to discuss CPES potential please contact Hazel Kendall via or 01579 372140.