New Group Aims To Help Protect The River Nith

Nith Life is a new, grassroots, community-led group that is exploring ways to ensure the River Nith is recognised as a significant part of the region’s sustainability plans for the future.


Inspired by conservation initiatives across the country the group has already made a great start.


Their ambition is to carry out scientific research and conservation work to protect and improve the health of the Nith’s landscape and wildlife, and to celebrate the river through heritage projects and the creative arts as a vital resource for local communities. The group plans to look at the whole length of the river from source to sea – no mean undertaking as the Nith is 70 miles long – Scotland’s seventh longest river!


John Wheeler, who originally suggested the idea of Nith Life, explained:

‘In the ten months since it was launched Nith Life has attracted foresters, townsfolk, land holders, academics, dog-walkers, fishermen, farmers, artists, community developers, conservationists and many other locals to get together and work out where and how we can best help life of all kinds in The Nith catchment. It started for me with an effort to help save our loss of wildlife, and a keen interest in solving Dumfries & Galloway’s flooding problems.  The support of The Stove Network and the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere have been crucial, and people working on other rivers  –  Ken-Dee, Tweed and Eden especially, have also been hugely helpful and encouraging. It’s a real joy to be teaming up with other folk and working together on sustainable changes.’


Nith Life was supported from the start through the Stove Network’s ‘Open Hoose’ programme, a funded initiative which encourages community-generated ideas and provides them with the space, time, and resources to launch ambitious projects, which connect people and communities together. The Nith is one of the primary river catchments on which Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere’s international designation is based, and the Biosphere team are excited to explore how they can help support Nith Life as the project develops.


Martin O’Neil, Artistic Director of The Stove Network commented:

“We are delighted to be able to support the Nith Life project through Open Hoose. The work already carried out by the group is amazing and their ambitions present a real opportunity to make a positive and lasting difference to both the river and to the communities living in the catchment.”


Faith Hillier, the Biosphere’s Community Officer, said,

“Collaboration between local partners is vital in finding sustainable solutions to environmental challenges and it’s great to see such a passionate group of volunteers running a meaningful, long-term initiative that takes a holistic approach to protecting one of the Biosphere’s most extraordinary natural assets.”


Nith Life is an open group and would love to welcome anyone with an interest in the Nith and its future to join them. Nith Life has a Facebook page, @NithLife where you can find out more about the group and see the dates of their regular meetings. The next one is scheduled to be held at the Tam o’Shanter pub in Dumfries on Wednesday 14 December at 6pm. All welcome.


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