Big River Watch Weekend: A first look at the data - The Rivers Trust

With over 3,600 surveys submitted for the first ever Big River Watch, our river experts have been busy exploring the data gathered by citizen scientists across the UK and Ireland.

ver the weekend of the 22-24th September, an incredible 5,871 of you across the UK and Ireland came together and surveyed the health of your local river, and we’re so grateful for your time and effort. Our team of experts are exploring all the data that you gathered, and we’re excited to share some of the first insights from the event.

Where did you take part?

Over 3,600 surveys have been sent in, from individuals and families and teams, and we’re delighted to see that so many of you have been spotting wildlife, surveying river health and taking some mindful moments across the UK and Ireland. Can you spot your survey site on the map?

(image: The Rivers Trust)
(image: The Rivers Trust)

60% of you are new to citizen science

Data gathered by citizen scientists is an important tool for conservation charities. When members of the public and local communities help undertake surveys, we’re able to get a much bigger and better picture of the state of our rivers than if just our staff collected data. With technology, it is becoming increasingly easy to become a citizen scientist. In fact, 59.2% of you told us that you’d never taken part in a citizen science activity before – and we hope you’ll join us again for another Big River Watch in April!

73% of you said your river looked healthy

While 17% said you thought it looked unhealthy at the spot where you were surveying, and 10% weren’t sure. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceptive – did you know that in England and Northern Ireland, not a single river is classed as in good overall condition? Chemical and nutrient pollution for example can be hard to identify when just observing the river, but can be very harmful to life in the river ecosystem.

But 54% of you spotted a sign of pollution

Over half of all surveys submitted included at least one indicator of pollution. From signs of sewage to algae blooms and oily road runoff.

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Posted On: 11/10/2023

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