Help your local river: join Big River Watch this bank holiday weekend

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Trent Rivers Trust is asking nature lovers to join The Big River Watch, a citizen science survey that will help to inform people and communities about the health of rivers in the Midlands and beyond.

Between 3rd and 6th May, we’re asking people to contribute to rivers’ recovery by recording observations of local rivers on a brand-new, free-to-use app. The results will contribute to a comprehensive data set on river health covering the whole of the UK and Ireland. This is the second edition of the Big River Watch, which launched in September 2023 and gathered data from more than 5,000 participants, 60 per cent of whom were new to citizen science.

Vanessa Sumpmann from Trent Rivers Trust says:“Looking at last year’s survey results, it’s been fantastic to see how much rivers create a sense of calm and how valuable they are to people’s mental health. This is in line with conversations we have with people all over the catchment – rivers are a source of pride and vital for recreation. At the same time, many people are aware of the fact that our rivers are in a bad way.“Big River Watch aims to involve the public in documenting it all – from iconic wildlife and pollution to the effect rivers have on their wellbeing. Big River Watch is an opportunity to dip your toes into citizen science and join a call for healthier rivers in a simple and engaging way.”

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Matt Easter, CEO of Trent Rivers Trust says:“Looking at data from the 360 surveys submitted in the Trent catchment last year, almost a third of participants saw fish on their outings. At the same time, 57 per cent of participants saw pollution from a range of sources, with livestock, silt, and algal pollution being the most common sightings.“Inviting people to be the eyes and ears of our rivers helps us build a picture of the state of the Trent and the changes we need to see to improve the health of our struggling rivers – locally and nationally.”

Spend 15 minutes by your local river and fill in the surveySpend 15 minutes by your local river and fill in the survey
Spend 15 minutes by your local river and fill in the survey

The Big River Watch is open to all, with no experience or training in citizen science required. All people need to do is spend 15 minutes by their local river and answer simple questions as prompted by the app. Topics covered include the plants and wildlife people can see, as well as visible signs of pollution or observations on flow levels. This information helps to build a complete picture of river health. 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, says:“We are really excited to kick off our second Big River Watch weekend. It is a great opportunity for everyone, in every corner of our islands, to get to know their local river and enjoy spending some time on the riverbank. Each of our brilliant local Rivers Trust works with local communities and partners, making these organisations a great place to go to learn even about your local river, as well as offering further volunteering or citizen science opportunities for you to support their protection and restoration.”

To take part in the Big River Watch, download the free app by searching for ‘Big River Watch’ on your app store of choice.

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