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. Problems like water pollution, increased flood risk, loss of biodiversity and soil erosion have brought many rivers to their knees.

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—altering water flow, sediment transportation, and the movement of species through the wider ecosystem. Fish passage is disrupted and, in some cases, prevented entirely; the risk of flooding is increased; and erosion can worsen.

How are we restoring rivers?

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Fish passage in 2020

6,138

kilometres of river were opened up for fish passage by local Rivers Trusts in 2020

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Barrier removal 2020

88

barriers to fish passage were removed by local Rivers Trusts in 2020

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Wetlands in 2020

62

wetlands were created or restored by local Rivers Trusts in 2020

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NFM schemes 2020

248

natural flood risk management schemes were put in place by local Rivers Trusts in 2020

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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