Wilder Lugg Project

Upper Lugg looking south

Dan Westbury 2024


Wilder Lugg

River Lugg / Afon Llugwy

The river Lugg is a SSSI main tributary of the world-famous river Wye, rising on Pool hill on the Beacon Hill common, Radnorshire, and joining the river Wye just south of Hereford at Mordiford. The river Lugg is famous for its iconic species, clear waters, and prize angling opportunities; however, it is now classed as in declining condition – with high levels of phosphates being the leading cause of decreased water quality. But as with all ecological crisis, it is complex and requires a holistic view if we are to make the relevant changes for its long-term sustainability. Land management has drastically changed over the past century, extraction of water has severely increased, and the climate and biodiversity crisis are reducing the rivers’ ability to restore its functions. Droughts in recent years have severely impacted the species that rely on this river, as well as increased peak flows during heavy rainfall events eroding riverbanks and displacing crucially important species such as Ranunculus aquatilis (common water crow-foot).

Highland cattle grazing heathland

Wildnet 2020 visions 

The Reason

Land use change has impacted the catchment’s ability to retain water as well as contributing to its declining quality in many cases – in the past 100 years England and Wales has lost up to 90% of its wetland and floodplain habitat. This is a staggering loss and a clear indication of what is required – we must work with farmers and landowners to reinstate wetland habitats where possible. It is not uncommon for some of farmers most productive land to sit alongside rivers and as such, a change of management in this area can present a real challenge for farm businesses. There is often a belief that wetlands cannot work within a farming system but in fact, perhaps the opposite is true. Planned, designed, and managed appropriately, wetland creation on the farm can increase drought resilience, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration, all while reducing the impact of peak water flows downstream.

 "Without healthy soils, clean water, and pollinators, the resources needed to produce food would rapidly disappear and Wales risks losing the vital role of agriculture in sustaining its rural economy and communities."


Iolo Williams 


Diana Farina 

The Reality

Also, there is much to be positive about – Radnorshire hosts a passionate rural community, proud of their landscape and the need for clean, abundant water is something that brings together a range of different stakeholders. People in the area are concerned; many people in the catchment rely on boreholes for their water and many have witnessed them run dry in recent years. Furthermore, there is not a farmer in the vice-county that has not had to deal with the issues brought about by the extreme amounts of rainfall experienced in the early months of 2024. This is where Natural Flood Management (NFM) can play a key role – buffering both the effects of flooding and drought, while aiding biodiversity and hydrological functions of the river.

The Project

The Wilder Lugg project is not concerned with ‘who is to blame’, but on working with those willing to implement solutions and creating the necessary change. The only way we can implement the level of change necessary to turn things around in our rivers is by working together – the Wilder Lugg project aims to empower the local rural community to bring about a long-term vision for the health and maintenance of the river Lugg. River users and concerned parties may have different ideas regarding how the river should be managed but almost everyone agrees they want to see a clean, healthy river, full of life and functioning as it should – and that is the ground in which we will stand on together, to guarantee the sustainability of the river Lugg for generations to come.

We offer a no obligation site visit to those landowners within the Lugg catchment - whether you are interested in working with us on NFM, or, simply want to have a chat about how you may alter management on your land, reach out to Dan using the contact details at the bottom of this page. 


Wildnet 2024

Natural Flood Management

The Wilder Lugg project will harness the power of nature to reduce flood and drought issues in the catchment. 

Citizen Science

Georgina Hale 2024

Citizen Science

Working with the local community, we will gather data on the river Lugg to empower the work we do. 


Amy Lewis 


Amidst the biodiversity crisis - we will work to increase the diversity of flora, fauna and fungi throughout Radnorshire. 


Peter Gathercole

Farm Advice

Working alongside the local farming community, we can ensure sustainable farm businesses that support Radnorshire's wildlife. 

Citizen Science

Without the input of the local community the project would simply not be sustainable. The Wilder Lugg project has a key focus citizen science, providing the opportunity for individuals and groups to play a key role in the restoration of the river Lugg. We will be working with the Friends Of the River Wye to regularly test the water along nine locations between the source of the Lugg and the Welsh/English border - providing us valuable data that will help to build a dynamic picture of what is happening in the river, and where. This data will then be shared widely for the public to view via the Wye Alliance Citizen Science map.

As well as regular water testing there will be data gathered through a range of different methods including riparian surveys, bat transect walks, invertebrate surveys, eDNA and more. If you would like to get involved in any way, even if it is simply to stay in the loop, reach out to Dan, our Wilder Lugg project officer using the details below.

Contacts details

Whether you are a landowner within the Lugg catchment, a local business or a member of the community that would like to get involved in the citizen science project, we want to hear from you! 

dan@rwtwales.org - 07852615456

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