Hear from our amazing citizen scientists why they love their rivers and what taking part means to them and discover hints and tips to enjoy rivers safely below.
Nominate us too for the
Christmas Challenge 2021 Supporters Choice Award
Come and Revel in Your Westcountry Rivers with us this festive season and beyond.
We are taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise at least £12,500.
This will help us to keep caring for your Westcountry rivers by supporting our Westcountry CSI volunteers who monitor the region’s river health, and inspire a love for freshwater environments through the development of educational resources and events.
Thanks to the generosity of our pledgers, we have up to £6,250 to match donations made.
If you can give £1 we get £2, £5 becomes £10, £100 becomes £200…
One donation, twice the impact.
River Safety - humans, dogs & more
We want everyone who loves being by the river to enjoy their time their safely while also respecting the environment around them.
Our Westcountry CSI volunteers receive full training relating to how to safely collect river health data and about their freshwater environments.
And if you love to take your dog with you on your river wanders, there are a few importnat things to consider. You can read about them at Dogs & Our Rivers
For the wild swimmers among you, please read our statement and info on the Our Reports page.
Please check if you can legally access the site and take all your rubbish away with you to dispose of correctly.
Nominate us to win £1,000
This year The Big Give is running its new Supporters Choice Award category.
Nominate us for the award on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and we will have a chance to win an extra £1000 towards our campaign once the Christmas Challenge has ended on 7 December.
Thanks in advance if you do.
Here are the Rules:
- Entries are open from 12 pm Friday, 3 December to 12 pm Tuesday, 7 December 2021.
- To nominate us, you will need to create a social post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram under the following conditions: USE: #CC21mychoice, TAG: The Big Give and Westcountry Rivers Trust, EXPLAIN: Why that charity should be nominated to receive the Big Give Supporters’ Choice Award.
- One winning charity will be selected and contacted by the Big Give awards panel after the campaign has ended.
- All of The Big Give social media accounts for tagging can be found here:
Click on the social media icons in the footer for our TAGS
A message from the team & one of our pledgers
Read our news story which highlights why this fundrasier is so important, not just as a means to financially support our volunteers and eductaion resources but also people too, and, of course, for the health of our rivers.
Kate Morley - citizen scientist
A couple of months ago whilst I was sat with my phosphate sticks I met a chap who was weighed down by a hefty backpack and on chatting it turned out he was a Climate Pilgrim, walking from Cornwall to Glasgow for COP26.
So today I’m sat here wondering how he got on? Did he make it? Will the COP gathering meet its obligations and will the Earth be saved for future generations?
Taking part in the Westcountry CSI project has been incredible. I originally signed up thinking it would be interesting to see what state our parish’s watercourses are in… but crikey it has been so much more.
Now I reflect that it has given me the opportunity to REALLY observe a local patch through the different seasons, to immerse myself in nature and spend some time to listen to the water babbling, trickling or stopping… and to understand the critical role our watercourses play in connectivity for nature.
But it has also allowed me to feel a glimmer of hope and ownership of being part of a group of people who are keen to make a small difference and this fights my eco anxiety.
Thank you Westcountry Rivers Trust for creating such a brilliant citizen science project.
Sue Perry - citizen scientist
Although it is a public footpath through private land, I feel the river belongs to everyone and through water monitoring with Westcountry Rivers Trust, I feel I am acting as custodian and advocate for its health and wildlife.
Monitoring the river makes me a close observer of details; I am so much more conscious of the changing seasons and unpredictable climate and the effects this has on the river state, on the riverbed and its banks.
Rather than walking blindly on, I spent summer pulling Himalayan Balsam from my stretch of river bank and scanning the route to and from the river for emerging colonies and preventing their spread. I am pleased to say that I have not yet detected any pollution (even being downstream of a sewage outflow), which is reassuring for the wildlife, for the people who bathe in there (I have not braved the cold as yet) and my dog, Billy.
Our rivers are in a very precarious state however, and there is no room for complacency; I will continue to monitor and wage war on the Balsam.
Linda Gerrard - citizen scientist
Thankfully, the river always scores well on pollution levels and low Phosphate but I was really disappointed to see its overall score marked down because of a lack of wildlife sightings.
This spurred me on and Simon (senior monitoring officer at Westcountry CSI) recommended the Field Studies Council Freshwater Name Trail to help me identify underwater critters rather than just relying on those I could see above water.
It’s been really interesting learning about this other world I knew very little about.
It’s absorbing, enjoyable and very satisfying when you spot something that’s a good indicator of clean water. I’d never heard of Flattened Mayfly Nymphs before, let alone seen one.
Friends of Luxulyan Valley River Monitoring
When we started we didn’t know that. We all got involved because we love the Valley with the River Par running through it. We all walk its length regularly and still marvel at its granite grandeur, industrial past, and Mother Nature’s repossession; we can’t help but feel a custodial responsibility for its health and wellbeing.
We didn’t expect to find contamination. Through the WRT citizen scientist project, we have come together as a group out of common interest and have developed from otter spotting to water monitoring to water fly identification.
In our search for the source of sewage we have expanded our monitoring to the entire length of the Par well beyond the Valley, and we report our findings to the Environment Agency and South West Water.
We have had amazing support from Westcountry Rivers Trust and feel we are making real progress in identifying sources of contamination that will protect the future health of our river.
We may be in search of sewage, but the journey is still a pleasant one, in good company, finding flora and fauna on the way or discovering small items of industrial past previously overlooked.
Our last visit concluded with three of us staring into sun-dappled water watching water boatmen (after a full discussion as to their identity of course) ferrying themselves up and down, side to side, oblivious to our interest.
It was a wonderful reminder that many of life’s pleasures are simple and free, that many of them can be found in the Valley and the reason we volunteer our time to its protection.
Par River Monitoring Group
Since then we have been able to carry out river sampling at numerous spots from near the source to the lower river near Par Sands.
There are six of us: Dave Burrell, Mandy Case, Joan Farmer, Veronica Jones, Roger Smith and Dave Stillings.
It all began with the otter surveys which some of us have carried out in and around Luxulyan Valley for years. We knew otters used the river but that was about all we knew.
How clean was the water? Was the biodiversity of the river as it should be? Official statistics were pretty tough to understand and then we discovered the Westcountry Rivers Trust, an organisation that is now close to our hearts.
And better still, it had a citizen science scheme! So now we check our river every month and are building up quite a database.
Alan Rowland - Riverfly & Westcountry CSI
I have surveyed Lundy’s ponds and streams ever since and continue to do so.
When I was close to retirement, I undertook a BTEC in biological recording at Cornwall College’s Camborne campus and continued to specialise in Freshwater biology.
When a friend told me of a free course at Hatherleigh in 2014 to survey for the Riverfly Project, I jumped at the opportunity.
Together with my friend Barry, I surveyed the River Torridge near Bradford Mill until September 2016. Following a conversation with another friend, Iain, we determined to establish Riverfly in Cornwall. At that time there was no Riverfly presence in the county. Since January 2017, we have trained over 90 surveyors and established over 80 survey sites in half a dozen catchments.
In June 2017, Simon Browning (senior monitoring officer at Westcountry Rivers Trust) suggested that I might like to combine my surveys with the Westcountry CSI abiotic surveys. I did so and survey my own three sites in North Cornwall for invertebrates and the basic abiotics. I have since completed 128 surveys.
The latest expansion of my surveys is to establish Riverfly and CSI on the iconic Cornish River Tamar. I intend adding a site to my own three and encouraging further survey sites to be established further downstream.
With the cutbacks to all public sector environmental bodies, these two citizen science projects are essential to maintain any sort of monitoring of freshwater bodies.
Any breaches are quickly identified and reported. My interest in freshwater invertebrates is enhanced by knowing that these surveys are filling the gaps left by statutory bodies and ensuring a watch is kept on these scarce and vital resources.
But if you can’t donate, you can still support our fundraiser by telling your friends, family and/or work mates about it and/or sharing via your social media.
Volunteering with our citizen science team is another option too – find out more at our Get Involved page.
However you can help is hugely appreciated.