Big River Watch
Environment,  FEATURES,  Features,  NEWS

Join in the first ever Big River Watch

The Rivers Trust is calling on outdoor swimmers and nature lovers to join the Big River Watch, the first ever UK and Ireland-wide citizen river survey taking place 22-24 September

The Rivers Trust is asking outdoor swimmers and nature lovers to join the Big River Watch, the first ever UK and Ireland-wide citizen river survey.

Between 22 and 24 September, the Trust is asking people to contribute to rivers’ recovery by recording observations of their local river on a brand new, free-to-use app. The results will form a data set on river health, the likes of which has never been created before.

Emma Brisdion, Marketing Campaigns Lead at The Rivers Trust, said: “People across the UK and Ireland care immensely about their rivers, and are rightly angry about the state they’ve been allowed to get into. The Big River Watch is all about using that connection to rivers to record the good, the bad, and the ugly so we can understand our blue spaces better and make informed decisions about how to revive them.”

Just 15 minutes of your time

The Big River Watch is open to all, with no experience or training in citizen science required. All people need to do is download the free Big River Watch app, spend 15 minutes by their local river and answer questions as prompted. We want to build a complete picture of river health, and topics covered include the plants and wildlife people can see, as well as visible signs of pollution or observations on flow levels.

From sewage, agricultural, and chemical pollution to severe habitat degradation, the issues blighting rivers in the UK and Ireland are well documented. The results of the first Big River Watch will show how these issues are impacting rivers locally, regionally, and nationally. By shedding light on which problems are most prevalent and where, we will be in a better place to direct improvements.

Benefits of blue spaces

As well as ecological features such as plants and wildlife, the Big River Watch app will also document the health and wellbeing effects of spending time in nature. Users will be asked how the stretch of river makes them feel, and what good things they have noticed.

Data gathered will be used to help support policy change, as over time the results will demonstrate the impacts of interventions such as nature-based solutions or local planning policy.

Tessa Wardley, Director of Communication & Advocacy at The Rivers Trust, said: “All across the UK and Ireland, we know that people are demanding better for their rivers, but the current lack of data on them prevents us from fully understanding what state they are in, and how that can be improved. The Big River Watch will put river data in the hands of communities; they will be at the heart of the data collection in the first place, and then all the results will be free and accessible for everyone to use.”

We’d love to see photos of you taking part in the Big River Watch – please tag @outdoorswimmer on Instagram and Outdoor Swimmer Magazine on Facebook.

Find out more about the Big River Watch and how you can take part:

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.