The Rivers Trust has published a new report on the current health of rivers in England and the factors threatening freshwater habitats.
The environmental charity’s The State of Our Rivers Report brings together localised data on the threats facing England’s rivers and provides the public with the tools to learn about the true health of rivers on a local and national scale.
Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, said: “Our report makes it clearer than ever that we may be winning small battles to protect our rivers, but we are losing the war. The trend of incremental, disjointed improvements which treat vital habitats as an afterthought must change. We need more robust legislation, greater investment, and to embrace nature-based solutions to turn the tide towards river recovery.
“Cleaning up rivers won’t be easy. Their current state is the result of hundreds of years of impacts, with many still suffering the consequences of our industrial past, and the age of coal-fired power. But this does not mean we lose hope. It means we act now to save rivers for future generations.”
With all rivers in England currently failing to meet chemical standards, and just 14% deemed to be in ‘good’ ecological health, the Rivers Trust say rivers are on the ‘frontlines of our natural and climate emergencies’ and ‘a radical rethink with proven nature-based solutions’ is needed.
Agriculture is the biggest polluter impacting nearly two-thirds of water bodies. The water sector is the second biggest polluter of rivers in England – mainly sewage effluent – which impacts over half of rivers in England, with towns and roads the third biggest.
Charles Watson, Founder and Chairman of River Action UK, said: “The report provides us with a highly accessible and comprehensive documentation of the environmental status of all our river catchments.
“This offers a perfect potential reference point from which activists can campaign to bring river polluters to book – and for the Nation’s growing army of citizen scientists, who need to compare their results.
“Hopefully the next edition will realise one of the calls to action here: being able to include more invaluable data local groups are collating each day on water quality and river health."
Put together using a combination of scientific expertise and connections with environmental stakeholders, the report includes interactive maps, infographics, and animations to visualise the reality of river health in England.