The Connecting the Culm project is part of Co-Adapt, an international programme working with partners in France, Belgium and the Netherlands to test ways of making river catchments more resilient to the impacts of climate change (mainly flooding and drought), using nature-based solutions and collaborating with people living in the area to do so. Co-Adapt is part-funded by the European Union’s Interreg 2 Seas programme.

The project is managed by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (where the River Culm rises) who employ a full-time Project Manager and provide a range of other support roles including senior management, finance, administration and communications.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust is commissioned to deliver several other key roles in the project including stakeholder engagement, nature-based solutions technical advice to landowners and managers, evidence and research, and monitoring and evaluation.

The Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, hosted by Devon Wildlife Trust, is commissioned to carry out biodiversity surveys and bring their extensive records to bear on our developing plans.

Some independent consultants are employed to carry out specialist tasks.

Finally, the project is overseen by a Steering Group, representing the organisations funding the project or providing in-kind support.

Steven Johnson
Steven JohnsonProject Manager
Steven’s role is to lead the Connecting the Culm project: coordinating the team, reporting to the steering group and collaborating with our partners in Somerset and Europe through the Co-Adapt project.

Steven is an environmentalist by nature, and engineer and project manager by training, with a background in the water and wastewater industry in the UK and experience of international water, sanitation and hygiene projects. He is passionate about sustainable development and collaborating to achieve better outcomes for people and the environment. Having been born and brought up in Cornwall, he is excited to be applying the knowledge and skills he’s developed from further afield back to the south west!

Cat Farnell
Cat FarnellEducation Specialist
Cat will be working with schools along the length of the Culm catchment helping pupils to learn about the River Culm, explore the issues it faces and allow them to be part of the plan to make it a better place for people and wildlife.

Cat is an experienced primary school teacher with a background in environmental archaeology. She now works as a heritage and environment educator engaging people with their local environment. She has worked on a range of projects across the south-west including the ‘Culm Community Crayfish’ project and ‘Natural Futures’ run by the Blackdown Hills AONB and the University of Exeter’s ‘Understanding Landscapes’ project.

Josie Purcell
Josie PurcellCommunications & Marketing Manager at WRT
Josie oversees and initiates numerous communication and marketing opportunities and campaigns for WRT. She is supporting CtC with the development and delivery of its communications strategy and plan.

Josie is a qualified and experienced journalist as well as a professional photographer/short filmmaker. She holds a MA in Photography and when not working with WRT, she creates environment-related photo-art and runs workshops via her eco-conscious photographic practice.

Daniel Halford
Daniel HalfordNature Based Solutions Specialist, Farm Advisor WRT
My role is to work with landowners, land managers and farmers on the Culm to identify and install Nature Based Solution (NBS) that can improve the Culm Valleys resilience to severe flood and drought.

Being bred and reared in East Devon I have a passion for the local area. I want to ensure our beautiful landscape and river catchments are preserved for future generations of all species.

Dominic Acland
Dominic AclandPartnership Support
Dominic’s role is to support the development of the Blueprint and the process of engaging people with it, especially organisations and community groups.

Dominic’s background is in countryside management and connecting people with nature. He specialises in project development, community-based enterprises and fundraising for social and environmental purposes.

Lydia Deacon
Lydia DeaconJunior Evidence and Engagement Officer WRT
Lydia works with volunteers to collect vital environmental observations and water quality measurements on the Culm. She runs CSI training events and webinars and will also be analysing the Maptionnaire survey results.

Lydia helps to monitor the Rivers of the South West and is also part of two other large projects. Plymouth River Keepers, where she is coordinating a citizen science effort and Preventing Plastic Pollution where she is mapping and collecting data on where and what plastic is entering the Tamar.

Clare Groom
Clare GroomCommunications Officer Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Clare’s role is to provide communications advice and support for the Connecting the Culm project and help promote the work of the project through Blackdown Hills AONB’s communication channels including the website, e-newsletter, events guide, print and broadcast media, and social media.
Sarah Ward
Sarah WardCo-Creation Specialist
Sarah will be undertaking stakeholder and community engagement, providing technical input, sharing knowledge, supporting event and social media activities and playing a key role in facilitating the successful co-creation of the Blueprint for the Culm.

Sarah has an academic background in physical geography and earth sciences, social science and engineering and professional experience in water resources and urban water management. This includes alternative water supply systems (e.g. rainwater harvesting), drought risk management and community water resilience. She previously worked at Thames Water, the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems and was most recently an Associate Professor in Environmental Hazards & Community Resilience at UWE’s Centre for Water, Communities & Resilience.