A project to improve conditions in a stretch of the River Rye has been highly commended in the Wild Trout Trust and Orvis Conservation Awards 2007.

Representatives of the project, which was carried out by the CAN DO Partnership and Ryedale Anglers' Club, were presented with the runner-up prize of £500 by David Bellamy at an awards ceremony in London.

The judges were particularly impressed with the partnership element and the care taken to minimise environmental impact while carrying out the work.

The project involved setting up a sustainable programme of tree thinning along a stretch of the River Rye to improve the habitat for brown trout and other species such as grayling.

In total, around 1.8km of river bank has been thinned to date and initial monitoring evidence suggests that there has already been an increase in river-flies and that fishing has improved along the upper river.

Support provided to the anglers' club by the CAN DO Partnership and landowners, the Duncombe Park Estate, has given its members experience and skills in many different aspects of environmental management and contract supervision and has enabled them to reinvest in the project by selling the timber felled to local merchants.

The club has also provided training for several members in monitoring river flies to track the project's benefits.

Lyn Mansfield, partnership co-ordinator for the CAN DO Partnership, said: "The competition is open to projects across the UK and the judging criteria are very rigorous indeed so to be awarded the runner-up prize is a fantastic achievement.

"Tree thinning may sound straight forward but there were a number of environmental, landscape and other issues that needed to be addressed along this stretch of the River Rye before work could start.

"The fact that the work was carried out sympathetically with no adverse environmental footprint is a strong testament to the hard work and commitment of all concerned."

Simon Dench, company secretary at Ryedale Anglers Club, said: "This whole project would not have been possible without the expert advice and help from the CAN DO partners, in particular Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park Authority, Natural England and Forestry Commission, and the co-operation of the Duncombe Park Estate, for which the Ryedale Anglers are extremely grateful.

"The award reflects the hard work and cooperation of the project, and moneys received will be put back into the project to allow further work to be carried out."