Friday 15 October 2010

Water for Wildlife

Today is Blog Action Day. This year's theme is Water. You can read more about the vast number of issues relating to water here. Blog Action Day is also asking people to sign a petition to support an International Water Treaty to ensure clean water for everyone. It is a scandal that in the Twenty First Century about 4,500 children across the world die every day from unsafe water and lack of sanitation.

This post though looks at water for wildlife, specifically along the Water of Leith. The Water of Leith is one of the rivers that runs through Edinburgh and as many readers of this blog know, I help to look after part of that river.

The Water of Leith was the most polluted river in Scotland in 1864 but it is now clean enough to support trout and otters. Many UK rivers are a lot cleaner now than they used to be, though there are still pollution issues with our waterways. The Water of Leith runs through Edinburgh, which is a major city and so the river suffers sometimes from sewage overflows, inflows of industrial pollutants (specially from garages) and littering (including large items such as shopping trolleys and car doors).

The Water of Leith Conservation Trust was the first charity set up in Scotland specifically set up to protect a river. It does a wonderful job, helped by a large number of volunteers, many of whom are ercruited from local businesses and community groups, including youth groups. The volunteers are vital to helping to keep the river and the walkway alongside it clean and attractive. There are around 20 volunteer patrollers (including me) who walk along a particular stretch of the river, recording wildlife, picking litter, pruning back vegetation and reporting major issues (such as pollution or large rubbish issues). Then there are the clean up volunteers who go out regularly to tackle those bigger rubbish problems or who attempt to control the spread of invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.

The volunteer patrollers met last night (as we do every few months) to discuss the current issues facing the river and how to address them. One new idea that came up is to have a small group of volunteers who can respond at short notice to medium sized rubbish issues - the pile of rubbish that one person couldn't deal with but that wouldn't offer enough work for a clean-up team to be kept occupied. We were also pleased to hear that the local Environmental Wardens are going to step up actions against people who put dog poo into bags and then throwing it into trees or the river or hang it on fences, which is a disgusting habit and increasingly seen along the river.

Clean rivers are vital for wildlife and for human recreation, in some places also for drinking water. Organisations such as the Water of Leith Conservation Trust make a huge difference to the state of our rivers and the wildlife that lives along them. The UK Rivers Network is a useful source of information about rivers and river campaigns in the UK.

For Blog Action Day


Gabrielle Bryden said...

I don't understand why they leave the bags in the trees - do they just forget to pick them up on the way back!!! Thanks for the post - I wasn't aware it was blog action day until I read it - not much more important than water.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Gabrielle - none of us understand why people do this, but it's certain that most people aren't intending to pick the bags up when they next pass, some of the bags end up in high branches!

Magyar said...

Just one thing:
__Condemn me if you will, but I have been a sport fisherman since I was a child... these 60 years or so. But... as that fisherman, I know and follow the protective aspects of the waterways... for all concerned.


__There is a river nearby me, that once had a Coho salmon "return" and those salmon were "stocked" by the state.
__One day, several of the already decaying "reds" had returned, but no "silvers were present. So instead of fishing, I returned to my truck and got a trash bag; I re-walked that river... gleaning all sorts of trash from its banks... all things from plastic coffee cups to some -unmentionables-. I returned to my truck... and stuffed the trash into the appropriate bin at the park [luddam's Ford] when I was immediatly attacked by a local cop telling me to bring *MY* trash home and dispose of it, THERE, not at the PUBLIC bins. No amount of explaining seeped into his wooden head, and closed mind.
__Sorry to leave such a long comment, but this about 20 years of anger... that someone trying to help, was insulted, and seen as the CAUSE... .
__I took that trash to that town hall that night [tho I wanted to toss it on their front lawn] and dropped in their own dumpster, and I felt a wee bit better. _m

RG said...

Well, every river and stream should have such a stewardship group!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Magyar - that is such a shame, people are so ready to jump to the wrong conclusion.

Rabbit's Guy - you're so right!

Daisy Hickman said...

Grew up on the Missouri River in central South Dakota -- home to the Oahe reservoir -- and its beauty will catch your breath on a sunny morning. Truly. Wildlife depend on it; humans, as well. I trust our world finds the maturity to adopt progressive attitudes toward the care and conservation of life-giving resources. Wonderful post, Juliet!