Issued by the Angling Trust, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Association and WWF-UK
With only 5 per cent of rivers in England and Wales described as being in a pristine condition a new survey has been launched by a coalition of conservationists to celebrate and bring attention to some of Britain’s best loved and long forgotten rivers.
The Our Rivers Campaign, which includes the Angling Trust, the RSPB, the Salmon and Trout Association and WWF-UK, is calling on people to take part in the first ever Our Rivers Awards by going online and voting for the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ river in England and Wales.
This could be any river from a picturesque chalk steam to a waterway teeming with native wildlife, or a river plagued by pollution and ruined by water abstraction.
The first person to cast their vote for the Our Rivers Awards was television presenter and producer and keen conservationist Philippa Forrester who is currently appearing in Halcyon River Diaries on BBC1. Other river enthusiasts, chef Tom Aiken and wildlife writer, Steve Backshall have also named their favourite rivers.
Phillipa Forrester said: “Living close to a river I get to see an amazing array of life from the emergence of mayflies in Spring to the darting flash of a hunting kingfisher and the secretive habits of the water vole. It may be small but my vote has to go to the river which runs close to my home, the real star of the Halcyon River Diaries, because it is a very special place for me.”
“We have to do all we can to protect these vital wildlife habitats and I hope the Our Rivers awards will highlight the pressures these waterways, and the life they support, are facing.”
Tom Aikten has cast his vote for the River Yare in Cringleford near Norwich and Steve Blackshall nominated the Upper Dart in Dartmoor.
The Our Rivers campaign was launched last year to campaign for clean, healthy rivers across England and Wales. Soon after, a Government report on the state of the country’s rivers found that 74 per cent are failing to meet European environmental targets.
The report found that just five per cent of rivers in England and Wales remain in pristine condition. The rest face a variety of pressures including; run off pollution from fertilisers and poorly designed urban drainage, invasive riverbank species like signal crayfish and American mink and low water levels caused by over abstraction.
Ralph Underhill, Our Rivers campaigner, said: “This is the first time the public has had a chance to vote for the river which is closest to the nation’s heart. This award will be a great celebration of one of our richest wildlife habitats – and one that everyone can enjoy because no-one is more than a few minutes from a river, stream or brook. We want to celebrate the amazing rivers we have in England and Wales, whilst raising awareness of the threats they face. By casting your vote, you are speaking up for Our Rivers.”
To cast your vote visit the Our River campaign website at www.ourrivers.org.uk. Voting remains open until the end of British Summer Time on the 31st October 2010.