2020 was a challenging year but, working with nature and local stakeholders and communities, the journey to make the Culm river and catchment better for wildlife and people, as well as becoming more resilient to flood and drought, carried on regardless. We couldn’t have got this far without your input!

Early in 2020 the Connecting the Culm Team had to change tack and move plans for stakeholder and community engagement online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then nine events have been held and attendance has been great – signalling that everyone has been taken on a different journey of participation this year! Through the Discover the River Culm science event and the Blueprint Forum Launch Week, we’ve been excited and spurred on by a massively positive reception to everything. Whether getting to grips with Zoom, Mural or interactive imagery, we’ve been overwhelmed by people’s spirit and willingness to ‘have a go’ and tell us how it worked out.

The Blueprint Forum is now well underway and the first round of Working Groups will be meeting in January and February to start exploring issues in depth, around different sections of the catchment and around cross-cutting themes. Please keep an eye on our newsletters and the website for updates and forthcoming meetings. Meantime our first Catchment Adaptation Workshop, “Trees on the Culm” is being held on 19 January and a second one on beavers is following in late February. These workshops aim to explore how we can make the river more resilient and give practical advice and tools for people to take action locally.

Parallel to the Blueprint Forum, a CtC project education sub-group is making sure all of the energy and interest in both informal and formal education that has been shown from lots of people is harnessed and taken forward. We have some exciting plans for COVID-compliant educational activities and resources for 2021 – so continue to watch this space!

On the catchment adaptation side, our project modelling work has identified several priority areas across the catchment. Some of these are to be confirmed but, working with landowners in 2021, activities around nature-based solutions will begin to ramp up – the National Trust’s Killerton Estate and Coldharbour Mill being two really exciting examples.

As challenging as 2020 has been, with the lessons learned and the momentum we now have, we feel that 2021 holds plenty of promise. With continued support from all the incredibly passionate people we’ve met and the new people we’ll meet, we’re confident Connecting the Culm will co-create the environment we know is possible. It has been an amazing year and we couldn’t have done it without you – thank you.