Our Rivers…

Few things evoke a sense of the Great British outdoors like a babbling brook in full flow; dipping a toe into the icy water; the flash of a kingfisher as he dashes downstream, dragonflies darting through the reeds.

But all these are in danger- we’ve just had our driest spring for a hundred years and our rivers are running at the lowest levels ever recorded. At the same time, people are using more water than ever – and almost all of this comes directly from our rivers and streams.

It’s not just low water levels that are threatening our rivers- pollution from cities and agricultural runoff is also having a devastating effect on the health of these amazing
ecosystems. We need better quality water and more of it if we are to maintain our picturesque British rivers and the unique and abundant wildlife they support.

This is the aim of Our Rivers, to protect and restore the nation’s watercourses to pristine and thriving ecosystems. But we can’t do this alone – we need your help to muster support for Our Rivers so we can convince the Government to take action and properly protect rivers for future generations.

Get involved by taking part in our national survey, become a friend on facebook, share your pictures with us on Flickr and tweet about what’s happening on your river.

You can also check out our latest campaigns here.

…has a new web site.  Check it out at http://www.ourrivers.org.uk/


Labour of love

Researching my family history has been no mean feat, especially in view of the fact that my starting point, my great-grandfather, was a chap called Fred Smith who lived somewhere in Wiltshire – that was all I had to go on.  Anyway, it’s surprising what you can discover and I have managed to trace the line back to the early 1700s.

One thing that strikes me is that nearly all of the men in my family have been listed by the census as ‘Ag Lab’ – agricultural Labourer.  Peasant.

Every one of them, to a man, would be ashamed of me today.

Yesterday I spent the day pulling Himalayan Balsam as part of the MRA‘s Going Native project, aimed at eradicating invasive, non-native species from the Monnow catchment.  Just six hours of manual labour has me searching for a place on my body that doesn’t ache.  How on earth did the labourers of old do this every day?

To off-set the aches and pains I have the knowledge that the MRA has made huge strides towards the project’s aims, and going back to areas that 12 months ago were completely infested with HB I can see a huge improvement.  The weed is mostly confined to isolated pockets which is easily pulled by teams of volunteers in a few short hours. That doesn’t mean that the job is anywhere near done – the whole-catchment, top to bottom approach means we will be going back over the ground that we have already sprayed/pulled for several years to come, and there is still a lot of un-touched ground in front of us but, there is hope – I have seen it.  Monmouth beckons and we will be there sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

On behalf of the MRA I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who attended this weekend.  I know some of you travelled from far afield to offer your assistance – your efforts are both vital and hugely appreciated.

 


The things you see

I normally go to the river to get my wildlife fix but, this morning, while checking the bird feeders in the garden I came across a portly little field mouse inside one of those hollow log thingies that you put fat balls in. He didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed by my presence either.


Weeeeeed!

During Saturday’s excursion with Justin & Neil I noticed a few patches of Himalayan Balsam just coming into flower – it won’t be long now until they start to spread their evil seeds.  Each plant will produce around 2500 explosive seeds that will rapidly colonise previously unaffected ground – growing to over 2 meters tall and out-competing the native plants, spelling doom & disaster for the dependent wildlife and leaving acres of bare earth after the first frosts which will end up on the spawning gravels after the first spate of the winter.  We hand-pulled several hundred plants, making sure to break them below the first node to prevent them re-sprouting.

I spoke to a passer-by who poured scorn on our efforts, deeming the effort to be like that of sisyphus rolling his rock to the top of the mountain, only to see it roll back down again and I guess, many would agree.

Charfield Angling Association has, this year, started an ambitious program to control, if not eradicate this invasive, non-native pest after seeing the fantastic progress made by the Monnow Rivers Association’s ‘Going Native’ project which aims to rid an entire catchment of Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and American Mink.  So far this year they have treated an astonishing 48kms of the catchment and this will soon be followed up by working parties hand-pulling anything that was missed by the spraying teams.  If anyone has any doubts that total eradication can be achieved I would strongly suggest that they contact the MRA here – I’m sure they will be pleased to offer advise and encouragement.


And the winner is!

Justin.

As the winner of the ‘Day on the Little River Avon’ lot in the Monnow Rivers Association auction he got to spend a day in the dubious company of Neil and I.

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Many fish caught.  Much Balsam pulled; and I was reminded of what a lovely little river this is.


Today there is a Royal wedding…

…and I intend to miss every minute of it.  The Monnow calls.


Take action now to give rivers a voice

This summer the Government will publish its White Paper on Water. This is an important opportunity to safeguard the health of our rivers and protect freshwater wildlife for the future. And we’re calling on our supporters to take action to help protect our rivers.
Defra has already outlined what it intends to include in its Water White Paper – which you can see here

From Our Rivers


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