Wooded river

Seven Wonders of the (Rivers) World

Emily Cooper


In the midst of a global environmental crisis, it can be hard to stay positive about the natural world. In particular, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to feel optimistic about the future of our rivers, considering the recent news that no river in England is in good overall health. However, there are good things happening all across the country. In this blog, we want to shine a light on the power we hold when working Together for Rivers. From our local Trusts, to community groups, to water companies and catchment partnerships—everyone can play a role in protecting and improving rivers for generations to come.

Unlocking the Severn will restore 158 miles of river habitat through the creation of six fish passes. Prior to the installation of weirs, hundreds of thousands of twaite shad used to migrate up the River Severn to reach their spawning grounds. This ambitious project will provide fish passage at barriers on the River Severn and its River Teme tributary, enabling the endangered twaite shad to follow their natural migratory route for the first time in 160 years!
This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through partnerships: Severn Rivers Trust are working alongside the Canal and River Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency - with work funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the EU LIFE programme.

Thanks to Don Catchment Rivers Trust and partners, salmon will be seen in Sheffield for the first time in 200 years! This is due to the completion of work enabling fish passage at 18 previously impassable weirs. Through the power of partnership working, the 20 year vision of salmon leaping in Sheffield's rivers has finally been realised. Where there's a will, there's a way!
Don Catchment Rivers Trust worked in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

Broomfield Park used to house a vast expanse of lawn, which—while pretty—didn't do much for nature. In 2018, work began on a brand new wetland; developed as a partnership between the Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF-UK, Thames21 – one of our local member trusts – and Enfield Council. The local community, Friends of Broomfield Park and the Pymmes BrookERS also provided invaluable support.

Broomfield Wetland has already begun to deliver huge benefits in the local area: boosted biodiversity, cleaner water, amenity for the community, and reduced flood risk for nearby homes. It's not just us who love it, either; the wetland is so impressive that it won a ‘highly commended’ award from the 2020 SUDs Awards.

At the beginning of the year, we released our new interactive map which highlights the location of sewage outfalls, enabling river users to make informed decisions when they take the plunge. As well as pinpointing the location where sewage is discharged, the map now enables users to check how many hours sewage was released for over the past year. This map shows what’s possible when water companies, NGOs and government organisations work together, with transparency and a commitment to change.

This year, we launched our new campaign, Together for Rivers, which hopes to see designated bathing waters introduced to well-used UK rivers. It's an uphill battle, but with your support, we're confident we can make a difference. So far, we have worked alongside community groups at Ilkley and Warleigh Weir by carrying out days of intense water sampling. It's hoped that this will provide the necessary evidence base to strengthen our call for cleaner rivers. We truly believe everybody should be able to swim, paddle, catch and play without worrying about pollution.

Check out our podcast to hear more about how the Ilkley Clean River Group are fighting to protect their local river; you might find yourself inspired to do the same in your local area! We would like to thank Patagonia for all of their generous assistance in helping the #TogetherForRivers movement come to life.

Floods are the most common type of natural disaster in the UK, and in some areas, they will get worse as a result of the climate crisis. We know hard-engineered, concrete and carbon intensive flood-risk management solutions alone will not solve our flood risk challenges. We also need to use natural solutions that help reduce floods and their impact to property and infrastructure.

A new project in the Wyre catchment is testing new approaches to finance and build Natural Flood Management at pace and scale. If you’d like to find out more, click here. Wyre Rivers Trust are working in conjunction with United Utilities, the Environment Agency, Triodos, Co-op Insurance and FloodRe, with support from the Woodland Trust. Vital funding has been provided by the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation and Defra.

The Rivers Trust runs the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA): the initiative to drive collaborative water management across England. We believe that bringing partners together to carry out work at the catchment scale is a fantastic way to enact change. The benefits of partnership working are clearly reflected in last year’s figures: from 2018 to 2019, for every £1 directly invested by Government, CaBA partnerships raised £3.20 of co-finance from a diverse range of non-Governmental funders.
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