The importance of the Nene Valley which runs through Northamptonshire has been highlighted in a recent report.
The Nene Valley was chosen in 2012 as one of 12 flagship nature improvement areas (NIAs) for England to receive Government funding to make it better for wildlife, people and the economy.
A report looking at the project from 2012 to 2015 shows a range of improvements have been made, including more than 350 projects identified to improve the River Nene after walking the entire length of it from Northampton to Peterborough.
Defra has compiled a report looking at various successes from the scheme, which include getting the community involved, restoring the river, creating wildlife habitat and valuing ecosystem services.
Statistics show that for every £1 of funding provided by the Government, the NIA partnership was able to secure an additional £4.50 of investment into nature conservation in the Nene Valley, with a total of £3.3million invested over the first three years.
The Nene Valley attracts 2.4 million visitors each year with 2,884 of these visits to the Upper Nene Valley gravel pits special protection area every day.
The number of hours contributed to conservation in the Nene Valley by volunteers is significant, with activities including scrub clearance, litter-picking and footpath maintenance as well as report writing and survey work.
In total almost 4,000 volunteer hours helped deliver NIA objectives, which equates to £80,000 worth of contributions to the project.
Other highlights noted in the report include a 45-metre backwater created by excavating part of an old meander loop to provide fish spawning and refuge habitat in Rushton, and meadow restoration at sites in King’s Cliffe, Badby and Upper Heyford.
Three lowland meadows have also been created on former arable land at Orton, Upper Heyford and Stanwick.
While the three-year funding for the NIAs has now finished, it is hoped the collaborative work in the Nene Valley will continue.
Environment minister Rory Stewart said: “The 12 NIAs have delivered real results for local environments and we must now look to make sure these remarkable results are long lasting and help connect British public with nature.”
The Nene Valley NIA covers an area of 41,000 hectares running through the heart of Northamptonshire and skirting Huntingdonshire to the eastern fringes of Peterborough.
It includes the River Nene and its tributaries, gravel pits, reservoirs and much of the floodplain within the valley itself.