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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
UK's Urban Rivers Bounce Back
This is a reminder that nature can recover swiftly if we step up to
the plate and simply stop the damage. It takes pretty active
processes to destroy the riverine biome. I go further and desire
proactive watershed management that augments natural processes.
However, just cessation of tossing toxins in the river does plenty.
We still have problems with excess nutrients to deal with and that
will take decades of conversion to biochar methods to resolve. The
transition to universal organic methods will also take decades even
knowing it is superior.
In the meantime, rivers will once again thrive with fish.
throughout England and Wales have improved dramatically in water
quality and wildlife over the last 20 years. That's the conclusion of
one the largest studies of national trends in river health ever
undertaken. After decades of pollution, typically from poorly treated
sewage and industrial waste, rivers in or near Britain's major
urban areas are regaining insects such as mayflies and stoneflies
that are typical of fast-flowing, oxygen-rich waters.
The range of
invertebrates found has also increased, on average, by around 20%.
Researchers from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences carried
out an independent analysis of data supplied by the Environment
Agency using almost 50,000 samples from thousands of rural and urban
The team puts the
general improvement down to industrial decline, tighter regulation
and improved wastewater treatment over recent decades.
The recovery has not
been universal, however. Rivers in some rural upland areas - such as
Wales and parts of northern England - appeared to deteriorate
slightly. The team is now investigating these trends further.
finding was that drought years reversed the recovery - at least
Dr Ian Vaughan, lead
author of the study said: "These important results show how
benefits to river biodiversity - the huge array of species that live
in our rivers - have arisen from investment and long-term restoration
intended largely for other 'river ecosystem services' such as
drinking water and sanitation."
Steve Ormerod, added: "While some pollutants are still
problematic, there is no doubt that this is a major success story
that shows what can be achieved by effective environmental
"These are very
large improvements not only for river ecosystems, but for the many
people who live, work and play along their banks everywhere from
Burnley to the Black Country or from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff."
Head of Catchment
Management at the Environment Agency, David Baxter, said: "High
quality environments promote wellbeing and creativity, so
improvements in rivers are important for wildlife, people and the
"It is great to
see this independent analysis confirm that urban rivers are
recovering, but there is still more work to do. We're working with
farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and
improve water quality and we have plans to transform more than 9,500
miles of rivers in England and Wales by 2015."
A paper describing the
study appears in the current issues of the prestigious international
journal, Global Change Biology.