Catchment Partnership

Striving to restore the Evenlode Catchment to "Good Ecological Status" for the benefit of all


"Restoring the Evenlode Catchment for the benefit of all"

The Evenlode Catchment Partnership (ECP), hosted by Wild Oxfordshire, has a vision for an Evenlode with improved water quality, enhanced flood management, enriched biodiversity, with greater community engagement with rivers, at local and landscape scales.

"The Evenlode waters used to be crystal clear, then, one summer it seemed, they turned to look like oxtail soup. It is still obvious something is very wrong"

- John Pratt (Fisherman and Citizen Science Catchment Champion for the ECP) 

Striving to achieve 'good ecological status' - an holistic approach to river restoration

We want to achieve our ambition of good ecological status across the whole catchment. To do this, we must reverse the degradation and fragmentation of our habitats and species, historic landscapes and freshwater bodies. The combined pressure of climate change and the rapid growth of rural settlements makes reaching this goal harder. To effectively tackle these issues and achieve our aims we have developed a long-term plan for the River Evenlode Catchment.
Download the full Catchment Plan Pdf.

The ECP was established in 2014 to facilitate improvements in water quality, enhance biodiversity, flood management, resilience to climate change and build greater community engagement with the local rivers, at local and greater landscape delivery scales.

We are a collaborative partnership bringing together local knowledge and expertise to deliver cost-effective improvements to water environments across the catchment.

The ECP is hosted and co-ordinated by Wild Oxfordshire, project managed by Ann Berkeley in a post funded by the Thames Water Smarter Catchment Initiative and the Environment Agency.

For more on this visit our ‘Projects‘ section.

Our Partners

We are fortunate in the Evenlode Catchment to have some excellent partners working with us on a wide range of initiatives:
- Atkins 
- Blenheim Estate 
- Bruern Farms
- Centre of Ecology and Hydrology 
- Coldstone Angling Club
- Cotswold National Landscape (CNL)
- Cotswold Rivers trusts 
- Cotswold seeds 
- Charlbury Parish Council
- Daylesford/Bamford Organic Farm   
- EarthWatch Europe
- Environment Agency 
- Forestry Commission 
- Milton parish council
- Natural England 
- Oxfordshire County Council 
- Sylva 
- Smiths Bletchingdon
- Thames Water
- North East Cotswold Farmer Cluster
- West Oxfordshire District Council 
- Windrush AEC
- Windrush Against Sewage Polution (WASP) 
- Wychwood Flora group 
- Wychwood project 

Our Projects

To achieve our goals, the ECP has a £3 million budget (2020-2025), funded by Thames Water, to deliver a range of catchment-based projects.
Our projects offer a great opportunity for local communities and organisations to work together on schemes that deliver benefits for freshwater ecosystems and wildlife. Projects can take several years to scope, develop, and deliver and we work closely with the Environment Agency throughout this process. We are always interested to hear from local people. Get in touch to discuss your ideas for future projects in the Evenlode Catchment. You can browse our current projects below.

The Evenlode Catchment Partnership has set up a Scheme to enable farmers and landowners to create wetland habitat on their land.

Create your own wetland! 

The Scheme is offering grants up to £20k to create a wetland and up to £5k to construct leaky, woody dams, covering up to 100% of the costs. If you are being more ambitious, we would consider match funding projects costing more than £20k if additional funding has been secured.

Use the Scheme Handbook for inspiration

How and where you construct your wetland is up to you. For inspiration, the Scheme Handbook offers some ideas and guidance on design for common wetland types in the catchment. If you are interested in participating in the Scheme, please send your completed Expression of Interest form to the Evenlode Catchment Partnership by email or post. Your local Catchment Advisor will contact you by phone to discuss your Expression of Interest and to schedule a site visit if necessary. 

Your projects must deliver against some or all of the scheme themes. It needs to either improve water quality, create habitat for wildlife, reduce flood risk or provide opportunities for access, education and recreation. We will prioritise wetlands that meet the most themes. 

Supporting Documents

Help us make change! 

Write to your MP to make water quality a priority on their agenda. We all know sewage pollution in our rivers is unacceptable so let's make ourselves heard! Together we can make a difference.

1) Enter your postcode below
2) Scroll down to select your MP from the options & click their name (don't know who your MP is? Don't worry - they will be clearly labelled)
3) Write in the text boxes using the prompts to help you
4) Submit
It's that easy! 

"Why isn't there a standardised letter I can copy?"
Generic, copied letters almost always end up low down on the priority list. So instead there are helpful prompts and ideas to help you write your unique response to make sure you're heard.

Want more ideas? 
Scroll down for more ways to help us.

You can also find out more about sewage pollution and how you can help from our partner, WASP (Windrush Against Sewage Pollution)

Catchment Champions

Catchment champions are local volunteers who monitor dissolved nitrates, phosphates, turbidity and invertebrate catches at multiple locations in the catchment. This work is done in collaboration with Freshwater Watch taking monthly samples with their testing kits and reporting and with the Riverfly Partnership using nets to catch and identify aquatic invertebrates.

The data collected is analysed to build more detailed picture of the water quality status of catchment water bodies. Catchment Champions also play an important role in reporting pollution incidents on their stretch of river.

Wild Oxfordshire and the ECP

Whether you have a couple of hours to spare once a year, once a month, or on a more regular basis, we would love to hear from you.  We work with many organisations, local businesses, landowners, and community conservation groups to deliver a range of projects so there are many ways to contribute.

If you would like to share your ideas for a project in the catchment or get involved delivering one then please get in contact: ecp@wildoxfordshire.org.uk

Riverfly Monitoring

Riverflies, along with other freshwater invertebrates, are at the heart of the freshwater ecosystem and are a vital link in the aquatic food chain. Riverfly populations are affected by many factors, predominately water quality, habitat diversity, water level and flow rate.

Their common characteristics of limited mobility, long life cycle, and specific tolerances to changes in environmental conditions make them powerful biological indicators to monitor water quality, and are commonly referred to as ‘the canary of our rivers.’

Training is provided by the Riverfly Partnership, if you are interested in taking part please contact

The Wychwood Forest Trust

The Wychwood Forest Trust works with local communities to protect and restore the spaces once part of the historic Wychwood Forest—120 square miles and 41 parishes of today’s West Oxfordshire.  

There are many ways to get involved in habitat restoration projects and learn rural skills.

The Combe Mill Society

The Combe Mill Society welcome a wide range of volunteers to help at their superb riverside site.

Oxfordshire has a number of major rivers; the Leach, Windrush, Evenlode, Glyme, Cherwell, Ray, Ock, and Thame and many smaller tributaries that flow through the county and into the Thames. Wild Rivers and streams in semi-natural landscapes are typically associated with complexes of wetland habitats including floodplain wetlands, fens, wet grassland, oxbow lakes, permanent and temporary ponds and wet woodland.

Through pilots the Environment Agency found that improvements to water quality are most effectively delivered by local partnerships, and that a river catchment was a good ecological unit to use. Each catchment has a host organisation whose role is to deliver wildlife and water benefits through bringing together partners, identifying work and finding funding.

The Evenlode

The River Evenlode rises out of the limestone that underlies the Cotswolds, flowing south-east towards the clay vales of the River Thames. The catchment contains 16 river water bodies including the Evenlode, and major tributaries the Glyme and Dorn. The landscape in this catchment is some of the finest in the county, forming part of the Cotswolds AONB, the remains of the ancient Royal Hunting forest of Wychwood and the World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace. There are many historic market towns such as Chipping Norton, Moreton-in-Marsh and Woodstock.

Habitats include oak-ash  woodland, limestone grasslands, lowland meadows and fen, which support a wide range of wildlife. Priority species present in the catchment include remnant populations of our nationally endangered native crayfish, water voles and rare plant species including fen violet and downy woundwort.

The river habitat and fish populations in the Evenlode catchment are degraded through a combination of historical channel modification and pollution (sediment and phosphate) from waste water and rural areas. In many places rivers been over-deepened, widened and straightened, resulting in uniform channel morphology, a river divorced from its floodplain and extensive in-channel siltation. There are also numerous weirs, (35 on the Glyme), impounding the flow and creating barriers to fish movement. The combined impacts leave the catchment vulnerable to flooding and pollution and contribute to reduced water quality, biodiversity and fisheries interest.

To help tackle these issues, Wild Oxfordshire has worked in the Evenlode Catchment since 2014, securing funds and developing a wide successful partnership of conservation bodies, farmers, commercial companies and statutory agencies.

Projects can take several years to scope, develop, and deliver and we work closely with the Environment Agency throughout this process. We are always interested to hear from local people. Get in touch to discuss your ideas for future projects in the Evenlode Catchment. You can browse our current projects at the bottom of this page.

The Cherwell and The Ray

The Cherwell and Ray catchment is hosted by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), with the support of the Environment Agency and The Rivers Trust. Giles Strother is the project officer for the Cherwell, Ray and Windrush.

The catchment of the Cherwell is divided into two sub-catchments of differing character: the River Cherwell and the River Ray (the Cherwell’s largest tributary).

From its headwaters near the village of Charwelton (Northamptonshire), the River Cherwell flows southwards, passing through Banbury and Kidlington before flowing into the Thames at New Hinksey (Oxford). Other than these key urban areas, the Cherwell catchment is very rural, with a high proportion of arable land as well as some improved pasture. The underlying geology is clay. For much of its length, the Cherwell runs parallel with the Oxford Canal, crossing it at Nellbridge and sharing the same channel between Enslow and Shipton-on-Cherwell.

The catchment of the River Ray is  predominantly rural. From its headwaters near Quainton, the Ray flows slowly south-west to its confluence with the River Cherwell at Islip.

The Ray is of particular significance as, despite heavy modifications to its channel, its floodplain includes areas of nationally rare species-rich meadow (including several SSSIs). BBOWT now manages a number of these sites, including Meadow Farm, a site of historical importance with medieval ridge-and-furrow farming techniques still visible today. BBOWT’s wider vision is to connect its nature reserves and the wider River Ray landscape through its Upper River Ray Floodplain Living Landscape project.

Further downstream, the RSPB manages a large nature reserve at Otmoor, famous for its bird life. Both the Ray and the Cherwell form part of the RSPB’s wide reaching Futurescapes project for the Upper Thames River Valleys, highlighting once again the national importance of this area

The Ock

The Freshwater Habitats Trust (FHT) was appointed as the catchment host for the Ock in 2013 and is leading the development of the catchment partnership with the support of the Environment Agency.

The Ock rises in Little Coxwell and flows eastward for 38km to join the Thames at Abindgon. The Ock catchment is characterised by clay, but is bordered to the north by limestone and sandstone which form a small escarpment, and to the south by chalk which forms an upland ridge. Spread across the catchment are a range of springs, headwaters, ponds, small lakes, and the larger streams and rivers. The catchment is also well-known for its fens, and wet meadows, all of which are affected by the quality and quantity of the water in the environment.

The 2013 water quality data from the Environment Agency suggests that water quality across the different streams and brooks is generally “Moderate” or “Poor”. Factors influencing the water environment in the Ock catchment are likely to be rural and urban diffuse pollution, waste water discharges, road run-off, loss of habitat and biodiversity and invasive non-native species

The Windrush

The Windrush catchment is hosted by the Cotswolds Rivers Trust, with the support of the Environment Agency and The Rivers Trust. It is a sub-catchment of the much larger Cotswolds catchment, and includes, as well as the River Windrush, the River Leach and the River Thames from its confluence with the Leach at Lechlade-on-Thames to its confluence with the Evenlode at Cassington.

The Windrush catchment is full of character, with a number of projects currently working towards improving its value for people and wildlife. The catchment is divided between Gloucestershire in the west and Oxfordshire in the east, with the River Windrush flowing through the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The River Thames flows through the southern part of the Windrush catchment, and forms the southern boundary of BBOWT’s largest nature reserve, Chimney Meadows (also a National Nature Reserve). This reserve lies at the centre of BBOWT’s Upper Thames Living Landscape project, which aims to manage, restore, and recreate floodplain habitats.

Poor water quality is a persistent problem in the Catchment and Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP) are a charitable trust working to put an end to this issue. WASP collect and analyse data on water quality, the processes that lead to sewage pollution and the impact it has on the environment. As well as informing the public WASP also engages with companies and government agencies to push for responsible sewage management.

The Thame

The Freshwater Habitats Trust (FHT) and the River Thame Conservation Trust (RTCT) were appointed as the joint catchment hosts for the Thame in 2013 and are leading the development of the catchment partnership with the support of the Environment Agency.

The River Thame catchment straddles two counties (Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) and encompasses two significant towns (Aylesbury and Thame). The proposed HS2 rail link will also run across the catchment. Land use is, however, predominantly agricultural with few protected areas, except on the catchment periphery, notably SSSIs along the Chilterns escarpment to the east and the Bernwood/Shabbington forest complex in the west. Numerous tributaries feed into the River Thame: as well as four brooks (Denton, Baldon and Gainsbridge brooks and the Milton Ditch) in the Lower Thame that form the core of the ongoing FHT/RTCT Catchment Restoration Project.

The 2013 water quality data from the Environment Agency suggests that water quality across the different streams and brooks in the catchment are either “Moderate” or “Poor”. No areas of the catchment achieve “Good” status. Factors influencing the water environment in the Thame catchment are likely to be urban and rural diffuse pollution, waste water discharges, road run-off, habitat/land.

The South Chilterns

The South Chilterns catchment is hosted by Thames 21 with the support of the Environment Agency.  The South Chilterns operational catchment includes part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It has three distinct geographical areas: in the West is the river Pang, a chalk stream in a rural area flowing through Pangbourne; the navigable river Thames flows through the middle of the catchment between Wallingford and Cookham; and in the east is the river Wye, an urban chalk stream rising near High Wycombe

Environment Agency Catchment Data Explorer

Evenlode Waterbodies Overall Status 2016

Evenlode Catchment with waterbodies

Evenlode Biodiversity Map

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