The “Discover the River Culm” online event held on 22 October 2020 brought together a galaxy of specialists to detail their knowledge and insights into the science and heritage of the River Culm.  Over 100 people joined the event and there was a lively interaction on the chat box with questions to the speakers throughout the evening.

Below you can watch the recording of the event and also browse through the chat transcript which includes lots of useful links.  The timetable gives you a list of the speakers and the time they appear in the video, if you want to fast forward to any specific presentation.

The next step in the Connecting the Culm process is the launch of the Forum and the beginning of the development of our long-term plan for the catchment – the Blueprint for the Culm.  Please do register now and more details will follow.

Register for the Forum here

Discover the Culm 22.10.20 – Chat recording

17:00:08               From  Tim.Youngs : Emily- you may have said it in your talk, but what carbon targets have already been estimated for the Culm catchment?- i.e. what do we need to be aiming for?

17:01:06               From  Emily.Reed : We don’t have a specific quantified carbon sequestration target for the Culm catchment yet.

17:03:27               From  Tim.Youngs : I assume it maybe helpful through the Culm project to suggest ‘bottom up’ carbon sequestration opportunities/ actions, to then match up against Devon wide targets when you  have estimated them?

17:10:21               From  Andre : Clearly this will have a massive impact on Devon…how many politicians are taking part in this event…surely we need to influence them….

17:12:11               From  Lindsay Blaxland : Is this where beavers come in?

17:14:55               From  Dominic Acland : Hi Andre, this event is part of a 2-year process to bring everyone together to make a robust plan for the Culm catchment (the Blueprint for the Culm) – and we have an event coming up in November to start work on that.

17:15:07               From  Ed Parr Ferris : They are definitely a part of the solution but soils management and our wider use of land will be critical

17:15:44               From  Rosemary Berry : Could the links be emailed to participants please

17:15:59               From  Sarah Ward : And thanks to those who are attending that may have already completed the Maptionnaire that Steve and Nick have mentioned

17:16:08               From  ianmc : Can contour moleing / subsoiling assist in preventing run-off from grassland in the event of heavy summer rainfall?

17:16:15               From  Steven Johnson : here’s the website link

17:16:50               From  Steven Johnson : and the link to the Maptionnaire survey – thanks to everyone has already responded, we are in the process of collating and responding to the input we’ve had so far! 🙂

17:17:37               From  Steven Johnson : We’ll email the links too Rosemary

17:19:27               From  Penny Price : Is there open access to the Culm Catchment modelling?

17:22:24               From  Steven Johnson : Hi Ian. Yes subsoiling and aeration of compacted grassland fields will help to improve infiltration into the soil. I’m sure Yog’s presentation will cover this further – let’s see!

17:24:19               From  Ed Parr Ferris : Hi Ian – these sorts of interventions are a good fix, but long term changes to the way we manage land  is needed to make these interventions have a long lasting impact

17:24:20               From  Steven Johnson : Hi Penny, currently the full model isn’t publicly available but we will be using it to produce resources throughout the project, and we want to use it to inform the Blueprint for the Culm – the long term plan for the catchment that we want to develop collaboratively over the next 2 years as Dominic mentioned

17:25:02               From  Cllr. John berry : Thinking of hele historically dredging reduced flooding.   Having been stopped for some years the river at Hele is silted up and local people with historic knowledge believe this would help again.  how do you view dredging to help keep rivers flowing now?

17:26:26               From  Emily.Reed : @timyoungs Yes we will move on to capture and measure the projects going on to track progress towards net zero

17:26:54               From  Nicky Saunter : there is a good FB group called soils4climate

17:27:02               From  Nick Sheron : Very interesting, how do we gauge the degree of soil compaction? We are on a clay subsoil.

17:33:44               From  Steven Johnson : Hi Nick Sheron, our soils specialist from the project team is on the call – Dan Halford, and he’s able to come to look at soils with landowners in the catchment over the coming months following covid guidelines, if you’re interested please get in touch

17:34:44               From  Nick Sheron : Cool thanks Steve, I will do this.

17:35:13               From  Lindsay Blaxland : Will I be able to access the filmed version of this event afterwards? I haven’t fed my chickens yet!

17:37:06               From  Steven Johnson : Hi Lindsay, no worries! Yes there will be a recording available on the website, we’ll be here for the Q&A so if you have any questions for the speakers please post them here

17:37:11               From  Sarah Ward : Hi Lindsay – yes, we aim to share the recording afterwards

17:43:58               From  Tilla Brading : Southleigh is Southey moor??

17:45:27               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB : Yes Southey

17:45:43               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB : You can find details of some of these springline mires here;

17:45:52               From  Ed Parr Ferris : Great presentation Gavin! Wildlife habitats helping people – says it all!

17:51:04               From  Ed Parr Ferris : There is also a danger that helping water to move more quickly through the Culm will lead to more problems further downstream on the Culm and Exe. Better as Steven says to minimise sediment leaving the fields

17:51:16               From  Tilla Brading : Could you tell me the value of a herd of horses grazing Gotleigh and a smaller group on Southey moors please?

17:52:04               From  Nick : Would it be possible to demonstrate the impact dredging would have with your hydrological model?

17:54:06               From  Sarah Ward : Lucy & husband’s question – How can we encourage better land use to address these problems?

17:56:10               From  Rosemary Berry : Is funding secure to 2022 given that we are leaving the EU at the end of 2020.  Have you assurances from British Government that they will continue  funding the project?

17:56:21               From  Steven Johnson : Lucy/husband if you want to elaborate on our interpretation of your question please do! We’ll come back to it at the end. Sorry the connection meant we only heard about 10% of what you were saying at the time

17:59:11               From  Steven Johnson : If anyone would like to explore the data in Hugh’s presentation, this is publicly available on this link

17:59:43               From  Jessie Curnow : Hi all. To add to the land management discussion we have recently secured funding for two years for a land management team locally in the Environment Agency.  This team is set up to specifically look at soil management in Devon and Cornwall.

18:00:28               From  Lucy Mottram : Thanks Steve, Lucy’s husband = Andy Hartley (of Bradninch). I’m really concerned about the state of the Culm, and the impact that the land ,management is having on the water quality (due to run off from fertiliser on fields), and the quantity of water during heavy rainfall events. The real issue (Cllr Berry) at Hele bridge is why haven’t farmers in the catchment implemented soil and land use management strategies to address the problems of flooding?

18:03:07               From  Rosemary Berry : To Lucy Mottram Result of agricultural policy and declining profitability requiring more inputs to produce more every since WW2.

18:03:37               From  Nick Savage : the link above to the water quality data is very interesting. Is there a reason why there are no data in 2017 and 2018? Has the frequency of monitoring decreased?

18:04:34               From  Lucy Mottram : … and as a follow-up, what can we do as interested members of the public to encourage better catchment management? More sustainable farming isn’t necessarily less profitable. Farmers pay an absolute fortune for fertilisers that go into our rivers and create problems downstream

18:04:40               From  Steven Johnson : Rosemary, yes we have been assured the programme will continue to be funded in a no-deal Brexit situation

18:05:18               From  Emily.Reed : Thank you really interesting, but I have to slip away now. Any questions please do get in touch through our website and we will get back to you:

18:05:45               From  Steven Johnson : thanks Emily!

18:06:14               From  Simon Browning : Yep – will do…

18:07:07               From  Simon Browning : Find out more here:

18:07:11               From  Steven Johnson : @Nick yes the water quality monitoring frequency has decreased, as Simon mentioned this makes it all the more important and valuable for citizens to get involved so we understand what is happening and use this to inform future plans

18:07:51               From  Simon Browning : … and email Lydia and me at if you’re interested in taking part 🙂

18:09:44               From  Sarah Ward : Question from Mark Edwards who due to tech issues can’t post to all: climate change clearly needs tackling but surely this should be equally shared with kerbs on pollution and habitat loss since one without the others does not bode well?

18:10:59               From  Ralph Ledbetter : this evening’s presentations highlight the different functional roles our river catchments play. management actions will always have trade offs against another function (e.g. dredging to mitigate flooding vs ecology). how do we prioritise the Culm catchment

18:11:27               From  Ralph Ledbetter : functions? ( sorry fat finger)

18:11:30               From  Nicky Green : Great presentation Richard!

18:12:36               From  Jen Donaldson : How can we go about getting water quality tested from local streams if we have land outside the Culm but within the Blackdowns?

18:12:41               From  Dominic Acland : All these issues do overlap and interconnect, yes.  We need an integrated approach and the CTC project aims to develop that, through the Blueprint.  That’s where we can agree priorities and work out a long-term plan that can target investment and funding where it can have best effect.

18:14:35               From  Dominic Acland : We are launching our work on the Blueprint at an event on 18 November – see the website events page for info

18:15:35               From  Steven Johnson : Hi Jen, if you are interested in citizen science water quality testing, the CSI scheme covers the whole of the west country so do still get in touch with Simon and Lydia at the email address above

18:20:32               From  Jennifer Bell : very helpful, thanks

18:20:39               From  Jen Donaldson : a suggestion to Lucy M re what can you do to improve land management practice…seek out farm produce that is actively promoting its eco and welfare credentials and be prepared to pay a bit more for better produce to show that their is a demand for that produce

18:22:42               From  Tom Hills – Greenspace Designs : Great project Nicky. Be good to talk further about how to protect this special river as one of only two native white clawed crayfish areas. Kate Hills

18:26:45               From  Penny Price : Is any work being undertaken on presence/re-introduction of water voles in Culm catchment? perhaps surveying presence of mink. Would be interested in being involved in such work. Water voles and beavers happy to coexist, just not with mink.

18:27:51               From  Ian Townsend : Will population control eventually be needed due to a lack of natural beaver predators?

18:27:56               From  Lucy Mottram : @Jen Donaldson … thanks for the suggestion. Completely agree with you! We do try to buy local produce from sustainable local farms (such as meat from Pipers, and milk from Oak Park). Could “Connecting the Culm” friends suggest any other local, responsible producers? Is there a way we can all advertise and promote these producers, specifically because they are helping to promote better catchment management that benefits us all.

18:28:52               From  Nicky Saunter : The great thing about looking at our landscape and culture through looking at rivers, is that it shows immediately how all these issues and all of us are connected by our waterways. Thank you for bringing us all together here – great job. Fabulous work from Devon Wildlife Trust! There’s a map showing beavers across the UK here.

18:29:12               From  Dominic Acland : Great, thanks ED – love the Dad’s Army Beaver pic!

18:30:01               From  Lucy Mottram : @Ed Parr Ferris – great, interesting talk. Thanks! Is the water quality of the Culm going to be a problem for the reintroduction of beavers?

18:30:20               From  Dan Osmond : Cheers all, bring on the beavers!

18:30:23               From  simon mchugh : with re’ to water voles – previous surveys have failed to find any relic watervole population on the Culm since the 1990’s largely due to presence of mink and land management but anecdotal reports suggest a declining mink popluation which is a good start

18:30:50               From  Nick Sheron : Excellent event, thanks very much.

18:31:31               From  Sarah Ward : Thanks Nick S – great you’re enjoying it!

18:32:11               From  Jessie Curnow : couldn’t agree more.  Very well thought through and interesting.  Thankyou for arranging.

18:32:34               From  Sarah Ward : Thanks for great feedback Jessie

18:33:09               From  Ed Parr Ferris : @Lucy Mottram beavers are reasonably tolerant to diffuse agricultural pollution although individual point source pollution or very intense pollution may be a source of concern. The beavers themselves are obviously good at dealing with some of these issues but important that the sources of these problems are dealt with too – just like Andy says!

18:35:34               From  Steven Johnson : People can explore the landscape data for Devon that Melanie is talking about here

18:36:06               From  Ed Parr Ferris : Interesting that we are seeing generally increasing otter populations and declining mink populations. This is great for existing and potential reintroductions of water voles, but also wetland birds. Beavers appear to benefit otters and create ideal water vole habitats

18:38:32               From  Ed Parr Ferris : The science and evidence review from the River Otter Beaver Trial can bee seen here

18:40:08               From  Tilla Brading : Can you copy the chat and send it to us for websites etc – I’m supposed to be at another Zoom!

18:40:59               From  Sarah Ward : Tilla – we’ll save the chat and share too

18:41:49               From  Rosemary Berry : Are connecting the Culm working with the MDDC Hydro Mills Project?

18:42:35               From  Dominic Acland : Yes, we have been in touch with them Rosemary and there are lots of good links to develop there.

18:42:48               From  Nick Savage : are you in touch with Martin Watts who wrote an article on mills in the Transactions of the Devonshire Asscociation?

18:43:16               From  Jenny Bennett : have you been in touch with Tony Brown who as worked on this?

18:44:40               From  AntonyFirth : Hi Jenny – yes we’re in touch with Tony Brown and his colleagues!

18:44:40               From  Nicky Saunter : Great evening – please send us the chat. Keep up the collaboration.

18:44:55               From  Lindsay Blaxland : excellent, informative, fascinating, loved this

18:45:08               From  Keith and Annabel : Very interesting and informative presentations. Thank you. Lots to think about.

18:45:31               From  Ian Townsend : Tremendously interesting event – big thanks to all presenters!

18:45:52               From  AntonyFirth : Hi Nick – yes we are in touch with Martin Watts too!

18:46:00               From  Sarah Ward : Thanks everyone for such positive comments about the event, so glad you’ve enjoyed it!

18:47:18               From  Natasha Bradshaw : thank you very much for a fascinating range of speakers – inspiring to have all this expertise coming together around the Culm. when it comes to downstream implications to the Exe Estuary and marine environment I am ready to engage more actively. I am doing a PhD in collaborative governance so look forward to the Blueprint. Natasha

18:47:21               From  Lucy Mottram : Really interesting, thanks to all the organisers!  Looking forward to finding out lots of actions that we can all do to improve our wonderful Culm River.

18:47:24               From  Dilys Farrant : A great introduction to an increased awareness, not only in Devon but throughout the country. Thank you.

18:47:26               From  Rosemary Berry : Many thanks

18:47:26               From  whjk1 : Many thanks for a very interesting picture of the Culm catchment.

18:47:32               From  Sarah Ward : Blueprint for the Culm – we’ll be bringing you more about this over the next few weeks…

18:48:08               From  AntonyFirth : Hi Ashley – thanks for this. I will follow up!

18:48:09               From  Tim.Youngs : Massive thanks all- inspiring, informative and feel  fired up to take lots of positive action now!

18:48:13               From  Ralph Ledbetter : really interesting, thank you all. great to be thinking about the catchment we live in.

18:49:15               From  Ed Parr Ferris : Great event folks and great to see so many people interested. I encourage everyone to get involved in Connecting the Culm and the other initiatives helping the Culm to get better

18:49:16               From  Steve Fletcher : Thank you for this event, most interesting! Can we have Antony Firth again but more slowly, please??!

18:49:50               From  jesse : hi every Thank you I really enjoyed it

18:50:00               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB : If you haven’t already signed up to our newsletter you can do so by going to the Connecting the Culm website and scrolling down.

18:50:30               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB : We’ll keep you up-to-date with future events and ways to get involved.

18:50:57               From  Richard Chivers : Fascinating stuff. I hope to take part in future events. Thank you!

18:51:03               From  Jenny Bennett : REally enjoyable thank you

18:51:40               From  Jennifer Ash : Thank you – really interesting.. will be glad to have the recording as my signal was poor some of the time and also some  family members were not available to watch now but are very interested.

18:52:20               From  A Kelly : Thank you very interesting.  Excellent to get so many varied contributors!

18:52:29               From  Penny Price : Antony – have done some mills research as part of hydro mills project on Culm – happy to share.

18:53:04               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB :

18:53:16               From  Clare Groom – Blackdown Hills AONB : if you would like to get in touch with the project team