Rivers Big Society Science

Rivers Big Society Science is in action – 200 delegates, from the Chairman of the Environment Agency through to local anglers from across the UK, unite in an innovative collaboration to protect and improve Britain’s rivers.

The Riverfly Partnership Logo

Rivers Big Society Science is in action – 200 delegates, from the Chairman of the Environment Agency through to local anglers from across the UK, unite in an innovative collaboration to protect and improve Britain’s rivers.
A capacity audience of 200, is gathering at the Riverfly Partnership conference ‘Your Rivers – their future’, at London’s Natural History Museum to further develop the expanding collaboration known as "the Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative". More than 50 trained volunteer groups regularly monitor over 350 British rivers, monthly, using a three-minute health check with riverflies as a barometer for water quality examining:

– the abundance of pollution sensitive riverfly larvae.

The Anglers Monitoring Initiative enables statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency to respond quickly to sudden, severe water quality issues such as pesticide spills. Frequent sampling also acts as a neighbourhood ‘river watch’ scheme deterring would-be polluters. The conference reports on three successful Environment Agency prosecutions of those responsible for the falls in water quality with fines in excess of £40k.

In addition to helping address acute pollution events, AMI groups also have the potential to make a significant contribution to long term plans, for example, local delivery of Water Framework Directive outcomes. Riverflies, including mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, are a vital part of rivers – the canary of our river system. As well as providing food for fish, birds and bats, riverfly numbers are a sensitive indicator of the health of our watery environments. Populations may be damaged by a variety of factors, such as low river flows, poor land management, acidification, siltation, pesticides, climatic change and pollution.

Community groups are long the river custodian. ‘Local stakeholders have a unique knowledge of their local rivers and, using a robust scientific health check, their expertise makes a real, noticeable difference to how we monitor river quality,’ said Bridget Peacock, Director of the Riverfly Partnership ‘Healthy riverfly populations are a sure sign of healthy rivers, which means better water quality for everyone.’

Your rivers – their future – Thursday 10 March at The Natural History Museum, 9.30 registration for 10.00 start and key note speech.