International Day of Action for Rivers

The 14th March is the International Day of Action for Rivers.

Communities from all over the world unite with one voice to affirm that rivers are vital and need our protection.  The day stresses that we all need access to clean, free-flowing water.   And that communities have a basic right to take part in decisions about water and lives.  We need to advocate for these rights and protect our rivers.

This year,  the aim is to highlight how important access to water is to everyone.   The theme focuses on “Water for All”. 

Communities may be tackling water rights, clean water access, fighting against dams, water grabs and the privatisation of water.   

Freshwater species have declined 83$ since 1970  which is twice the rate terrestrial or marine species have experienced. 

Image copyright Dillon Groves

There are plenty of events taking place around the world.  If there isn’t one in your area, why not use the opportunity to find out about the rivers near you?  What is being done to protect them?

Many places are removing dams and restoring rivers.

Communities may be removing dams and restoring rivers and there are some amazing examples of what has happened to rivers and wildlife after dams have been removed. 
Watch for the hashtag #UnDamTheWorld

Here's an example of dam removal in California. 

It’s also a chance to highlight those organisations which are working to protect rivers:

Charities can give us a structure, a way "in" to helping and offering our time, our energy, our skills  and even our money in donations.   Volunteering for instance is a great way to connect with people who want to do something to make a differnce, and to be a part of something bigger which drives change forward.

International Rivers work in Africa, Asia and Latin America to protect rivers and rights and to promote solutions to meet water, energy and flood management needs around the word.

Sign up here to receive their action alerts and monthly NewsStream with river-related news and announcements

This is the umbrella organisation for 65 River Trusts around Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland.   The Rivers Trust works with member trusts (find your local member trust here) to make a shared vision a reality:  wild, healthy natural rivers, valued by all.

Find your local Rivers Trust member here. 

Ways to help the Rivers Trust help our rivers:

  1. Read the report, The State of our Rivers
  2. Sign up for their newsletter
  3. Volunteer e.g. help create a new habitat, do some balsam bashing (removing invasive species), river clean ups, fish barrier removal and water quality testing on a WaterBlitz day.  Your local Rivers Trust will have details of volunteering opportunities in your area.
  4. Find out how the Rivers Trust works with schools and youth groups – could yours get involved?
  5. Could your business be a corporate supporter?
  6. You could donate, fundraise or leave a gift in your will for the Rivers Trust
  7. Write to your local MP – there’s details here, including how to find your local MP
  8. Take part in the Spring Big River Watch Weekend, on 3rd – 6th May 2024.  This is a survey  to build up a picture of river health across the country and you can find out all about it here
  9. Know how to report river pollution - the Rivers Trust can tell you how to do that

The charity cares for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales, providing habitats for wildlife, heritage sites and recreational opportunities.  You can see the network here.

 There are lots of different volunteering opportunities, and they are a great way to meet like-minded people who want to make a difference as well.  (14,000 people do it.) You could join a TowpathTaskforce team, or group together with other enthusiasts to adopt a stretch of your local canal. 

Man made canals may be, but they are also home to herons, dragonflies, water voles and bats, and they provide habitat for threatened wildlife.   There are waterway banks, hedgerows, grassland, scrubland, buildings, bridges, locks and walls, and open water all form vital habitat for threatened wildlife. They need care all the time to keep them flowing, and full of water, and clean and wild.  They need looking after!   Find out more about the wildlife on canals.  

River Action UK

River Action is on a mission "to rescue Britain’s rivers by raising awareness of river pollution and applying pressure on industrial and agricultural producers, water companies, and other polluters. " It wants them to take more responsibility for putting right the adverse environmental impact their supply chains are having on our rivers' health.   Find out more about their campaigns here.   
Find out about their Charter for Rivers Campaign here.

The Beaver Trust wants to see buffer zones restored along river banks.  This will help make space for rivers and wildlife.  Rivers can be fantastic corridors for wildlife.  So the Trust has joined Riverscape, a coalition of the Rivers Trust, National Trust and Woodland Trust to restore these buffers.   (Don't forget that the 7th April is International Beaver Day!) 



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