Big River Watch returns for bank holiday weekend

The Big River Watch is back! Members of the public are invited to join the only UK and Ireland-wide citizen science survey of river health which attracted more than 5,000 participants in September 2023.

Between 3rd and 6th May, The Rivers Trust is asking people to contribute to record observations of their local river on our free, easy-to-use app.

The results will be made available through an interactive dashboard, and will help The Rivers Trust, as well as individuals and communities who can all access the data, to take action to improve rivers both on-the-ground and via campaigns and advocacy.

Tessa Wardley, Director of Communication & Advocacy at The Rivers Trust, said, “With the state of our rivers hitting the headlines time and again this year, the Big River Watch is the perfect way for people to get involved and take action for their local river. Having a large set of data from one weekend will help our experts to understand what’s going on in our rivers, and what needs to be done to make them cleaner, healthier, and part of a thriving wider environment.

“In September 2023, 60% of Big River Watch participants were new to citizen science, which shows just how important this tool is to help everyone get involved and showing they care about rivers. As well as learning where pollution and wildlife are spotted, we also want to know how spending time near rivers affects people’s wellbeing, so I’d encourage anyone and everyone to spend some time by their river and make their voice heard.”

The Big River Watch is open to all, with no experience or training in citizen science required. All people need to do is download the free Big River Watch app, spend 15 minutes by their local river and answer questions as prompted. We want to build a complete picture of river health, and topics covered include the plants and wildlife people can see, as well as visible signs of pollution or observations on flow levels.

Emma Brisdion, Marketing Campaigns Lead at The Rivers Trust, said, “Healthy rivers are essential for our wellbeing and for our wildlife. But rivers in the UK and Ireland have been allowed to get into a desperate state, and there are many people who care immensely about them and want to help. The Big River Watch invites communities to get involved. The simple survey is all about using that connection to rivers to record the good, the bad, and the ugly so we can understand our blue spaces better and make informed decisions about how to revive them.”

Data from the first iteration of the Big River Watch shows revealed that 73% of people thought their river looked healthy, whilst The Rivers Trust’s recent State of Our Rivers Report 2024 showed that no stretch of river in England or Northern Ireland is in good overall health, with other nations of the UK and Ireland not performing much better. This apparent disparity points to the complexity of assessing river health, as well as the need for more comprehensive monitoring to be done and made accessible to the public to aid their understanding.

To download the app simply visit your phone’s app store and search “Big River Watch”

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