A PROJECT which aims to improve the water quality and wildlife of a Westcountry river has made a splash in East Devon.

The project is a joint initiative between Devon Wildlife Trust and the Sid Vale Association and is based on a six mile stretch of the beautiful and popular River Sid upstream from Sidmouth.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Scott West, who is leading the project, said: "Many people know and love the River Sid. It’s somewhere that local communities walk, play and live beside. It’s also a key component of what brings tourists to this wonderful part of the world.

"What the project is aiming to do is to ensure that the river remains as a special place for and people and wildlife. That means looking after its water quality and making sure that it can continue to support a wide diversity of life."

After six months of the project Scott has got to know the river intimately having achieved an impressive amount of work which has included walking the entire length of the river in waders.

He has also taken surveys of mayflies and waterbugs from along the river as a means of evaluating the water quality.

Scott added: "It’s also an opportunity to see how positive management on the Sid can lead to healthier rivers not just here but across East Devon.

"We plan to take the lessons learned on this one small river catchment working with local landowners and enhancing riverside habitats and then apply them to other rivers."

The River Sid already supports an amazing amount of wildlife including such iconic species as kingfishers, otters, brown trout and damselflies, but Scott believes it could to support more.

He said: "This river has the potential to support other well-known but threatened species, perhaps the best example would be migrating Atlantic salmon.

"This river and other rivers like it would once have contained good numbers of salmon. Local people recall seeing them in years past.

"Our ambition is that the Sid and its neighbouring rivers might one day support species like this again."