Saving Britain’s Rivers: How you can help by becoming a citizen scientist

Saving Britain’s Rivers: How you can help by becoming a citizen scientist

Cleansing up the Thames in London


Are you involved concerning the state of the UK’s waterways? Would you love to do your half to enhance them? As a part of New Scientist’s Save Britain’s Rivers marketing campaign, we’ve rounded up probably the most fascinating citizen science tasks that share our ambitions to guard and restore these very important waters. Right here’s how one can assist.

Save Britain's rivers

Spot bugs

RiverFly is a community of scientists, conservationists and organisations that helps individuals monitor invertebrate numbers of their native rivers. Volunteers are skilled to gather water samples from rivers and depend the various kinds of insect life they encounter. Every group is supervised by a challenge chief and the information is utilized by the UK’s Surroundings Company to get a greater understanding of how invertebrates are faring in rivers throughout the UK. About 300 volunteers monitor bugs across the nation on this method every month, says Trine Bregstein at Riverfly.

You possibly can participate by going to the Riverfly web site to seek out out when your native rivers belief is holding its subsequent one-day Riverfly coaching session, which is able to normally be free. “You don’t must be an entomologist, an ecologist or maintain a PhD to do that,” says Bregstein. “Anybody can do it.”

Get bodily

Much like RiverFly, the Modular River Bodily Survey (MoRPh) is a rigorous monitoring programme that requires a one-day coaching session for members of the general public to become involved. However not like RiverFly, the challenge is targeted on monitoring the bodily habitat of the river, says Angela Gurnell at MoRPh.

“You possibly can’t perceive ecological information from rivers in the event you don’t perceive the bodily habitat,” says Gurnell. “That’s why we began this survey.”

The challenge has been totally operating for 4 years now and it goals to get citizen scientists to watch the options of their native rivers, says Gurnell. This will embrace analysing the water circulation sample and the varieties of vegetation discovered on riverbanks, she says.

Folks can participate in surveys all through the UK, says Gurnell. Go to the MoRPh web site to seek out the subsequent obtainable coaching session close to you.

Volunteers clearing the Hogsmill river, a tributary of the Thames, in London

AP Photograph/Matt Dunham/Alamy

Take to the Thames

The charity Thames21 has been spearheading citizen science tasks alongside the river Thames for a number of years now. For instance, the crew surveyed dragonfly numbers on Crane Park Island in Twickenham, London, in Might. The island is a neighborhood nature reserve made up of ponds, reed beds and woodland.

Thames21 is at the moment organising a litter research at Limekiln Dock in East London for 28 June. Individuals will categorise the litter they discover into varied sorts, resembling that derived from sewage, to determine the largest points on the Thames.

This occasion follows the charity’s PlasticBlitz initiative earlier this month, by which it requested teams to assist clear up plastic from the banks of their native rivers in London. Final yr, 500 volunteers took half in the identical initiative and picked up 14,000 plastic gadgets. “The worst offenders have been moist wipes,” says Liz Gyekye at Thames21.

All upcoming occasions are listed on the group’s web site. Gyekye says focusing in your native atmosphere is an efficient solution to have a constructive affect. “Local weather change can typically really feel too large a difficulty to grapple with,” she says. “However serving to to scrub and shield your native river can produce seen outcomes.”


The DRYRivERS app goals to assist researchers doc and research rivers around the globe which are drying out because of local weather change. In keeping with the crew behind it, 50 per cent of the worldwide river community has drying channels.

Research recommend that local weather change might have a serious affect on fish that depend on linked river networks with freely flowing water. The app is straightforward to make use of and asks individuals to take footage of their native river and report whether or not water is flowing or not.

Campaigners in opposition to sewage air pollution in Edinburgh, UK

Arch White/Alamy

Marketing campaign for clear swimming

Regardless of individuals throughout the nation having fun with a dip of their native river, simply three stretches of river in England have been given official bathing standing by the UK authorities. Because of this solely these rivers are recurrently monitored for E. coli and intestinal enterococci ranges through the summer season by the UK’s Surroundings Company. Excessive ranges of those micro organism in water have been linked to diarrhoea and urinary tract infections.

In recent times, nonetheless, a number of campaigns have been launched in an effort to realize bathing standing for extra rivers. Whereas citizen science isn’t required for this, lots of the profitable bathing standing campaigns have taken water samples to focus on how necessary it’s that water high quality is recurrently monitored. You possibly can attain out to Surfers Towards Sewage, a charity that’s supporting many of those tasks, to find your native marketing campaign group and become involved.


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