River scene

Restoring rivers

When rivers thrive, so do we. A clean, healthy river can transform entire communities. They provide us with a space to enjoy spending time, helping to boost mental and physical health; they can house huge amounts of biodiversity; they can decrease flood risk, even for vulnerable communities; and so much more.

River restoration sits at the heart of what we do. On a daily basis, our local Trusts are out in the field, carrying out impactful work to restore and revive freshwater habitats. However, this is no easy feat: industrialisation, urbanisation and agricultural intensification have all left their mark on freshwater habitats.

Our population is growing rapidly, urbanisation is occurring on a massive scale, and we are demanding more food at cheaper prices than ever before. Unfortunately, many of these changes have occurred at the cost of healthy river systems.

Over time, we have straightened, dammed, deepened, reinforced, diverted, embanked and culverted rivers. These changes have significantly altered the fundamental way in which rivers function,so they are no longer resilient and able to cope with additional pressures from water pollution, increased flood risk and drought, loss of biodiversity and soil erosion. This has brough many rivers to their knees.

How are we restoring rivers?

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Fish passage


kilometres of river were opened up for fish passage by local Rivers Trusts in 2022-23

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Barrier removal


barriers to fish passage were removed by local Rivers Trusts in 2022-23

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hectares of wetlands were created or restored by local Rivers Trusts in 2022-23

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NFM schemes


natural flood risk management measures were installed by local Rivers Trusts in 2022-23

Returning our rivers to a totally wild, natural state simply isn’t possible everywhere—but there is so much more that can be done to help nurse them back to life! Alongside our local Trusts, we’re leading the fight for wild, healthy, natural rivers.

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