Worthyvale Weirs, England

Restore the ecosystem's natural ecological integrity and hydrological balance, fostering a cascade of positive impacts that benefit both the environment and the communities that depend on the river.

Introduction

The Upper River Camel, situated in Cornwall, England, is a stunning and culturally significant project area. Originating in Bodmin Moor, the river spans about 30 miles, winding through picturesque villages, fertile valleys, and diverse landscapes before meeting the estuary near Padstow. This region is ecologically vital, boasting various habitats that support diverse flora and fauna, including otters, Atlantic salmon, and various bird species. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), conservation efforts are critical to protect its biodiversity. The area also holds historical and cultural significance with ancient settlements and structures scattered throughout the landscape. Balancing ecological preservation and human activities, including sustainable land management and responsible tourism, presents ongoing challenges. Overall, the Upper River Camel is a captivating blend of natural beauty, heritage, and ecological importance, inviting exploration and appreciation.

At a glance

Project typeDam removal (demolition)
Project statusComplete
Removal dateOctober 2023
CountryEngland
RiverCamel
Km opened1
Focal speciesAtlantic salmon and seatrout, bullhead, eel, otter and kingfisher

Project context and opportunity

The River Camel in Cornwall faces a unique project challenge: managing or potentially removing historical weirs that have altered its natural flow. These weirs, originally built for mills and drainage, have disrupted habitats and impeded fish migration, particularly for salmon and trout. Addressing them will restore the river’s dynamics, enhance biodiversity, and make ecosystems more resilient. Removing the weirs improved habitat connectivity, benefitted sediment flow, nutrient exchange, and aquatic organism movement, and reduced flood risks downstream. Balancing historical significance with ecological restoration can foster community engagement. Moreover, restoring natural flow patterns can boost the river’s adaptability in the face of climate change.

Project aims

The primary project goal of weir removal in the River Camel area is to restore the ecosystem’s natural ecological integrity and hydrological balance, fostering a cascade of positive impacts that benefit both the environment and the communities that depend on the river. This restoration promotes fish migration and improves water quality, increasing biodiversity and healthier aquatic populations.

With weirs out of the equation, the river is more accessible for fish, particularly species like salmon and trout, which rely on unobstructed routes for spawning and migration. The project aims to improve fish habitats and contribute to the recovery of dwindling fish populations, benefitting recreational fishing and the aquatic food web.

The revitalised river ecosystem becomes a more attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. Improved opportunities for angling, kayaking, and nature appreciation can stimulate local economies while fostering a deeper connection between people and the river.

Partners