The Woodland Trust in Wales - Coed Cadw - has teamed up with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to improve the condition of four important rivers in South Wales.

The 4 Rivers for LIFE Project will protect, enhance and help restore the Rivers Teifi, Tywi, Cleddau and Usk. An estimated 500km of river will be improved. The Trust has committed to providing 50,000 trees over five years for riparian planting and wet woodland creation.

Sophie Thomas from Woodland Trust Wales said “The restoration of our rivers is vital to protect and conserve Wales' precious natural environment and trees can play a pivotal role in its recovery. Trees do a fabulous job at reducing the risk of flooding by intercepting, storing, and filtering water that would otherwise flow directly into the watercourses. They also keep our rivers cool, prevent bankside erosion and provide cover and food for fish and invertebrates.”

The rivers are classed as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) which means they are of international importance for their wildlife and plants such as salmon, lamprey, shad, otters and water crowfoot. All four rivers are currently in an unfavourable condition as a result of multiple pressures. These, coupled with a nature emergency in Wales means that we must act now to restore our rivers and make them more resilient.

The project will focus on the following aspects:

  • Improving river habitats and conditions for migratory fish – most notably Atlantic salmon, sea and river lamprey, bullhead and shad. Otters and freshwater pearl mussels are set to benefit too. 
  • Re-profiling sections of canalised rivers so that they meander once again –great news for wildlife. But also for people as slowing the flow can reduce flood risk downstream.
  • Working with farmers to protect river corridors and reduce sediments and nutrients from entering rivers. This will have the added benefit of safeguarding important drinking water supplies.
  • Reducing the impact of invasive non-native species in 180km of river. Species like Himalayan balsam, American skunk cabbage, Japanese knotweed, and giant hogweed will be removed.

The 4 Rivers for LIFE will be led by NRW in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, River Restoration Centre, Coleg Sir Gâr and Woodland Trust, with financial support from Welsh Government and Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water.

The project, supported through the EU’s LIFE Programme with funding also provided by the Welsh Government and Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water, will ensure that the £9 million will be spent on urgent conservation challenges over the next five years.

Natalie Buttriss, Director of Wales for Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales stated “We’re delighted to be playing our part in this much-needed LIFE project. By providing 50,000 native broadleaf trees we will be helping to create riverside and wet woodland habitats that support river wildlife.”

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 602993, or email or

About Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK with more than 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  1. protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. establish native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free, so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.

About Natural Resources Wales

To contact NRW please call the communications office on 029 2046 4227, or email (24hrs).

It’s our job to look after Wales’s natural resources and what they provide for us to

  • help reduce the risk to people and properties of flooding and pollution
  • look after our special places for people’s well-being and wildlife
  • provide timber
  • work with others to help us all manage them sustainably.

Our people have the knowledge, expertise, and passion to help make the sustainable management of natural resources a reality.

For general details and more information about the 4 Rivers for LIFE Project please visit:

Partners in the 4 Rivers for Life Project