Fish & Other River Wildlife

River Academy

Fish & Other River Wildlife

The rivers of the Westcountry have always been a stronghold for iconic wildlife such as otters, dippers, trout and mayflies. But now, as the health of our rivers and estuaries has begun to improve, many other animals and plants are also returning to our countryside, parks and gardens in ever greater numbers.

Rivers Bring Water to Life

Rivers are home to spectacular and precious wildlife and form a key part of our rich natural heritage…They are also great places for us to discover, interact with and enjoy the natural world around us.

Find out more about the work of Westcountry Rivers Trust...

‘River Ecosystems’ Storymap

Our watery places – rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes, seas and wetlands – are home to some of our most spectacular and precious wildlife, supporting a wide array of animal and plant species.

Make your way to our ‘River Ecosystems’ Storymap by clicking on the image. This Storymap will guide you through the key concepts of ecosystems in our rivers, giving examples of how they are being impacted by human activity.

Pond Dipping Guide

Ponds are fascinating features in our landscapes and even in our own gardens. Have a look into the invertebrate communities living in your local pond with the help of this guide to pond dipping. As well as putting a name to the critters you find, you can also learn what these species tell us about the quality of the water in the pond.

Ecosystem Services

In today’s crowded world, how can we ensure that the natural environment can continue to sustainably provide us with the resources on which we all rely? We made this short film to explain the importance of working together to deliver landscape-scale spatial planning.

You can also learn more through our ‘Ecosystem Services – Who knows what they’re talking about?’ blog written by our resident Ecosystem Services expert.

Mapping Ecosystem Services

Our Evidence and Engagement team have developed an ecosystems services opportunity framework, which has been adopted by a number of catchment partnerships. Click on the image to see an example of an evidence review produced for the East Devon Catchment Partnership. The review was produced to identify areas within their catchment which play, or have the potential to play, a particularly important role in the delivery of a range of benefits (ecosystem services) to society.

Payments for Ecosystem Services

Narrated by Bert Biscoe, this short film explains the concept behind payments for ecosystem services schemes. A well managed river catchment provides us with food, clean water to drink and it protects us from flooding and drought. It stores carbon, provides habitats for wildlife and provides places for us to live, work and enjoy. However, we only pay farmers to produce food from their land. Perhaps it’s time they were paid to protect and restore areas of their land to provide these other ‘services’ too?

Old Weirs New Problems

Improving fish passage on weirs is one of the core activities of the Westcountry Rivers Trust’s Fisheries team.  However, it is not uncommon to encounter the view that we are wasting our time, and considerable amounts of money, on fixing a problem that does not need to be fixed.  Fish used to be able to thrive despite the weirs in the past, so what’s changed…?

Freshwater Pearl Mussels

Freshwater pearl mussels are showing huge declines in England, they are critically endangered and on the verge of extinction in the Westcountry. Click on the image to find out how the Westcountry Rivers Trust and partners are helping to turn around the decline of Westcountry mussels in the Rivers Taw and Torridge.


Somerset Eels

The European eel is an IUCN red list ‘critically endangered’ species with an extraordinary life cycle, starting life in the Sargasso Sea and migrating along coastal currents to reach European river systems. Throughout their journey, eels face a number of threats, such as barriers (e.g. weirs and dams), over-exploitation and a distinct loss of wetland habitats. Click on the eels to discover more about these amazing species and our work to monitor their movement in the Steart Marshes so we can help save this critically endangered species.

Salmon in the Classroom

Pupils at Culmstock Primary School in Devon recently welcomed some unusually fishy companions to their classroom and helped conserve one of our most iconic species of fish, the Atlantic salmon.

Eradicating Himalayan Balsam

A short video explaining the problem posed to our rivers and stream in the UK by the invasive non-native plant, Himalayan balsam. It also explains how to deal with it if you find some growing.

Join our campaign to improve habitat

Our rivers are rich in wildlife… after all ‘rivers bring water to life.’ However there are large stretches of our rivers that no longer provide the mosaic of habitats that river ecosystems rely on for their different life stages. But you can lend a hand…

Rivers Matter

We might not realise it, but our rivers, lakes and coasts inspire and sustain us all in our everyday lives.

They are steeped in our history, embody our natural heritage and will be a vital element of our future health and prosperity.

Our ‘Rivers bring water to life…’ brochure illustrates the importance of our watery places.