Thames21 scoops prestigious UK River Prize Award

Environmental charity Thames21 has won a prestigious river award for its collaborative ‘Rewilding the Rom’ project with Barking and Dagenham Council.

The exciting initiative has paved the way for the construction of a wetland, connecting it to the River Rom in East London.

The River Restoration Centre’s (RRC) UK River Prize ‘project-scale’ award was presented to Thames21 at the RRC’s awards dinner in Llandudno, North Wales, on 24 April.

Commenting on the award win, Carolina Pinto, River Restoration Manager at Thames21, said: “I am so thrilled that we have won this UK River Prize Award. This is a brilliant achievement and great recognition for the hard work of our team, volunteers, partners and supporters.

“Through this collaborative effort, we have reconnected the River Rom to its floodplain, developed a wetland and helped to transform the river into a healthy environment for wildlife, whilst reducing the flood risk for local residents, which is desperately needed in light of the climate emergency.

“Together, we have not only restored this reach of the River Rom, but also initiated change to create lasting positive environmental impacts for people and for biodiversity.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has been involved in this fantastic project.”

Thames 21 has led this project, in collaboration with Barking and Dagenham Council, which started in 2021. Work is still ongoing to encourage the involvement of local people to get ‘hands-on’ and help with river improvement events, such as cutting back vegetation to help the River Rom to breathe or tree planting events. This has helped local people to learn more and actively enjoy contributing to their local area and local river.

Barking and Dagenham Council’s Rangers Service supported by its conservation volunteers have been instrumental in helping the project to succeed.

The project has been supported by Thames Chase (this initiative started with the Land of the Fanns) and was developed on The Chase Local Nature Reserve managed by the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. The project has also been supported CBEC Eco Engineering, the Roding, Beam and Ingrebourne Catchment Partnership, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Havering Council and Havering Wildlife Project.

The initiative was funded by Essex & Suffolk Water, the Environment Agency, Kusuma Trust, the Mayor of London’s Rewild London Fund and Thames Water.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “We’re so pleased this fantastic project has been recognised with the UK River Prize Award. The restoration will benefit the area for years to come thanks to flood risk reduction and an improvement in biodiversity.

“This is undoubtedly an important and ambitious environmental project, and we’re thrilled it gets the recognition it deserves.

“A huge well done to our Barking and Dagenham Park Rangers, Thames 21 and everyone else involved in bringing this fantastic project to life.”

A Kusuma Trust spokesperson added: “Kusuma Trust is happy to have partnered with Thames 21 to help restore and rewild the River Rom and to see this extraordinary place become a key natural resource for the local community and all Londoners. We congratulate Thames 21 on their well deserved win of the River Restoration Centre’s (RRC) UK River Prize ‘project-scale’ award.”