Human civilizations have been built around rivers since the beginning of time. From relying on rivers for water and food, to the myriad of recreational activities enjoyed on them, rivers are fundamental to society. To celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers, we are focusing on how rivers, and the actions we take to protect them, unite us and bring communities together.
River Action and communities
So much of the work our member Trusts do rely on volunteers. From litter picks to citizen science, volunteers help to maximise the impact member Trusts can have on their local rivers. People give up their time to help defend and improve their local river. Beyond the clear environmental benefits, this comes with fantastic positives for the community.
The far-reaching influence of local pride
Spending time cleaning up and improving a local river can help instill a degree of pride in the local environment. Interestingly, this can have impacts that reach beyond the local area and into wider environmental issues. One of the problems facing the environmental movement is the scale of the problems it needs to tackle. This can lead to people feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and less likely to encage with the messages. However, taking local action, such as participating in a river clean up, can bring a sense of accomplishment and hope. The idea is that if we can all change our “back garden”, we can collectively change the world.
Reconnecting with people
There is often a sense that community spirit has declined overtime. Taking action for our rivers is a fantastic way to meet people and rebuild the sense of community. It provides a way to meet and form connections with people from the local area with a shared interest in protecting it. In an increasingly digital world, this can be a refreshing way for people to connect.
Reconnecting with nature
Taking action for our rivers can provide the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature. Not only can this positively affect our mental health, it can instill a greater desire to further help our wildlife and planet. It is easy to feel disconnected from many of the large environmental problems, especially those that don’t outwardly appear to have a direct impact on us as individuals. However, spending time in nature, observing the local wildlife and seeing the decline of their habitats, is another fantastic way to feel closer to the issues at hand.
Rivers are facing a great many pressures - ranging from climate change to agricultural pollution. Taking action to help clean and protect them is a fantastic way to not only build climate resilience and protect nature, but can also help build a sense of community, improve mental health, and instill a passion for the environment.
If you would like to get involved, use our member Trust map to find your local River Trust and keep an eye on their social media for upcoming volunteering activities.