THE achievements of local river conservationists in the Borders are to be recognised at a major international awards ceremony.

Awarded for outstanding achievements in river restoration and protection management, the Thiess International River Prize is presented each year in Australia.

And the Tweed Forum has been shortlisted for the title and the accompanying $200,000 Australian dollars in prize money.

The charitable trust’s inclusion highlighted the hands-on, co-operative approach to managing the 5,000-square-kilometres of the Tweed’s catchment, which straddles the Scotland-England border.

Luke Comins, director of Tweed Forum, said: “It is extremely rewarding to have the contribution of all those working to conserve and enhance the Tweed recognized on an international stage.

"The River Tweed is one of the UK’s most precious assets and we have developed a collaborative approach that is delivering significant benefits for the landscape and the people who live and work within the catchment of the river and its tributaries.

"We’re greatly looking forward to sharing our experiences and knowledge on delivering a sustainable future for the river and its environs with delegates at the International Riversymposium and are, of course, hoping that we can bring this prestigious award back with us to the UK.”

The Tweed has a rich and diverse natural, built and cultural heritage and is one of the UK’s most productive salmon rivers.

It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation under European legislation.

The Tweed Forum works with farmers, foresters, landowners, ghillies and both the public and private sector on both sides of the border in a partnership that has delivered significant benefits in river restoration, habitat management, improved water quality, the protection and enhancement of fish stocks, flood management and tourism and recreational opportunities.

Its projects have included tree planting and woodland management, pond and wetland creation, the capture and storage of greenhouse gasses through peatland restoration and management, tackling invasive plant species, creating and upgrading cycleways and trails and restoring listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments.

The Tweed Forum also runs educational initiatives including school visits, field trips and talks, and works with statutory agencies and policy makers to improve legislation and shape policies.

Its work led to UNESCO recognition in 2009, and the receipt of the first UK Rivers Prize in 2015.

The Tweed is up against three other strong contenders the Thiess International River Prize – the San Antonio River in Texas, USA, The Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers in Alaska, USA and the Pasig River in the Philippines.

Previous winners of the prestigious competition include the River Niagara, the Rhine and the Danube.

The 2017 winner will be announced at the International Riversymposium in Brisbane, Australia in September, and representatives of each of the four finalists will travel to the event to share their knowledge and experience with others in the field from across the globe.

If successful, the Tweed Forum would use the prize money to employ a dedicated education officer to enhance the organisation’s education outreach programme.

It would also explore the possibility of developing an apprentice scheme that would enable participants to work with the Tweed Forum to encourage the development of best practice in integrated catchment management elsewhere in the country.

Mr Comins added: “There is a continuing need for education at all levels - from school children and college students to communities and policy makers - about sustainable land and water management.

"The prize money could play an important part in helping to engage people with the issues and challenges involved and encourage all sectors of society to work together to further the welfare of our precious rivers and the communities living alongside them.”