Last week at the Westcountry Rivers Trust we were celebrating UN World Water Day and a number of our team shared their thoughts on why rivers matter so much to them, both in and out of work.

It is clear that rivers are so important for so many different reasons. They support wildlife, provide drinking water, control flooding and also play a huge role in how we enjoy the landscape. In addition, rivers provide us with beautiful scenery and places to relax, fish, swim, canoe and walk.

But it doesn’t stop there, rivers mean so much to each of us in different ways and following on from last week, a few more of us would like to take the opportunity to share our experience of working with rivers.

We’d also love to hear your thoughts on why rivers matter so please get in touch through Facebook or our comments section!


Sarah Howe, Finance Officer

In a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?Sarah_Howe

I work in the finance team

How would your life be different without rivers? 

It wouldn’t be so calm, I find a walk by a river very peaceful

What do you love about working on the river? 

Being part of the team involved in their conservation is very rewarding

Annabel Martin, Land Management Officer

annabelIn a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?

To engage farmers with water quality issues and encourage them to take ownership of their river. And to achieve improvements by helping farmers to take practical steps that will reduce risk and improve their farm business.

How would your life be different without rivers? 

Family walks would be less sheltered and more windswept, our town would have less of a heart, and I’d probably be working with less passionate and motivated people.

What do you love about working on the river? 

I love the ephemeral nature of the river landscape, always different, always on the move, and always wildlife to watch.

Yog Watkins, Senior Land Officer

In a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?IMG_0270

In a Walnut sized shell – My job is a mixture of advice, education and encouragement. I advise both farmers and other farm advice workers; I educate both this and the next generation of farmers and land managers of ways to improve profitability, whilst also having a positive impact on the environment; and finally encourage people to think differently and look at their businesses more holistically, but still pay attention to the finer details.

How would your life be different without rivers? 

Life without rivers – Thirsty. Obviously I love rivers, you can’t really do this job if you don’t. If there were no rivers I’d probably be back at my desk publishing books on why aren’t there silvery snakes of water passing through our landscape. They bring the landscape to life, and life to the landscape.

James Gilbert, Data and Evidence Officer

JamesIn a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?

I analyse, visualise, and interpret environmental data in order to inform the targeting of effective interventions in catchments, with the aim of improving water quality.

How would your life be different without rivers? 

I’d be quite thirsty and I think Plymouth would smell more than it already does …
On a serious note: I’d be bereft of one of the most beautiful habitats one can experience.

What do you love about working on the river? 

The diversity of work it entails; the multitude of actions from a wide range of stakeholders impact and are influenced by rivers and the ecosystems associated with these.

Giles Rickard, Senior Land and Fisheries Officer

In a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?

Westcounty Rivers Trust eleoctro fishing on the east dart river at Bellever Bridge Photo credit Paul Glendell Mobile 07802480710

To identify and deliver catchment scale solutions to bring about improvements to water quality, flood risk and aquatic habitats.

How would your life be different without rivers? 

There would be fewer places to relax, to watch time pass, to fish, to play, to swim and listen to the gentle tinkle of water passing over stones and boulders.

What do you love about working on the river? 

I love the way that its is always changing and varies through the year, whether its is the time for returning fish as they attempt to spawn and pass obstacles or for aquatic plants to be in full bloom or to a raging torrent following a heavy storm



Adrian Dowding, Senior Fisheries Officer
 Atlantic salmon spend the first two years of life in the fresh water habitats of their native stream (occasionally three, depending upon food availability). At two years of age, the fish undergo the process of smoltification, resulting in changes in certain cells of the gills and kidneys (allowing survival in either fresh or salt water), and brings about a silvery body color (better camouflage in the open ocean). Also during smoltification, salmon imprint upon the chemical "fingerprint" of their home river which allows them to recognize it upon their return from the sea. Once smoltification is complete, and water temperature increases to over 50o F, salmon smolts instinctively migrate downstream to the North Atlantic Ocean, and eventually to the cold waters off Greenland. Here they find food in the form of shrimp, herring and capelin, and two years later, at four, the survivors return to their home river to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon may repeat the spawning cycle several times. Green Lake National Fish Hatchery, MaineIn a nutshell: what is your job at WRT?I improve the rivers of North Devon in as many ways as possible.  By innovation and hard work it might improve rivers all over the World if we lead by example and do a good job.

How would your life be different without rivers?

Life without water is like food without salt, a boat without a paddle, or a freshwater pearl mussel without fish.  Water is the life of everything and everything to do with life.

What do you love about working on the river?

Like a contestant for Miss World, I am improving food security to stop starvation; I am improving water security to stop flooding and drought disasters; and most of all I am improving loads of other things that you wouldn’t even think about, like improving visibility for divers at sea.