We’ve written a lot about climate change in recent months and about the importance of celebrating and commemorating the dates dedicated to shining a light on environmental issues.
It’s a great way to mobilise people, raise awareness and to educate children on things like biodiversity, habitat loss, and green energy.
It’s why we wanted to raise awareness of International Rivers Day which is happening later this month.
International Rivers Day is on Sunday September 27th 2020 and we wanted to find out more about what makes rivers in the UK and abroad so vital not only to wildlife but local communities, too.
It’s impossible to be concerned about the pollution in our seas and oceans without also being aware of pollution in our rivers.
80% of plastic that ends up in the sea starts off in rivers, so it’s vital that we not only celebrate the amazing biodiversity of rivers both at home and abroad but that we also make a commitment to keep them clear of rubbish and toxins.
International Rivers Day 2020 is a great opportunity to make an impact on your local community either by organising a clean-up alongside a riverbank or canal side or through education in schools or day-trips with families.
8 Facts about Rivers
We’ve got 8 facts about rivers for International Rivers Day that we hope will inspire you to take action not just on September 27th but for many years to come, too.
- During particularly harsh winters, London used to hold a ‘Frost Fair’ on the iced-over Thames. The dates are somewhat sporadic over the centuries but London suffered far harsher winters in years past than it does now. Frost fairs meant dancing, ten-pin bowling, eating and drinking, According to the BBC, the last one was held in 1814 and we’re unlikely to ever see another as now the Thames flows too quickly to freeze over.
- Staying in London, did you know that eels migrate up the Thames between April and October? Unfortunately, in recent years, the population has declined by 98%. The Guardian explains how eels migrate as larvae from the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic to European rivers where they’ll spend 20-years before returning to the Atlantic to spawn and then die.
- The Canal and River Trust shares the story of a cow called Buttercup on its website. In 1912, Buttercup took a tumble into the Leeds and Liverpool Canal but rather than walk back out, she swam 1640 yards to the other side and was ‘revived with brandy by drinkers in the nearby Hole in the Wall pub’. Nice one, Buttercup!
- The Severn River has the second highest tidal range in the world and is home a naturally occurring phenomena known as the Severn Bore. One website describes it as being ‘caused by the tidal surge of the sea being funnelled up stream’. You can see the Bore on around 130 days each year with some people choosing to surf it, too.
- The industrial revolution had a devastating impact on marine life in the River Mersey. Once the most polluted river in Europe, an extensive clean-up operation has seen marine species returning to the waters for the first time in centuries. You can now find salmon, Atlantic dolphins, cuttlefish, harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins in the river. In 1999, the Mersey won an award for the best river clean-up of anywhere in the world.
- Rivers aren’t just habitats for wildlife but they provide employment and a way of life to many of the people who live on or near their banks. From the late 19th century until the 1950s, 75% of the world’s ships used to be built on the River Clyde in Glasgow.
- In Egypt, 95% of the country’s population live alongside the River Nile. Fertile soil along the river accounts for much of the country’s crops.
- The Volga in Russia is so wide in places that if you stand at the water’s edge, you won’t be able to see the other side.
Rivers are vital both for animals and humans. They provide food, water, transport and help in agriculture, and they’ve inspired countless pieces of art and literature.
Why not visit a river this international rivers day (or even a canal, it’s not cheating) and celebrate everything that’s great about these fascinated and vital bodies of water. And why not stop off for a drink, too. We all know that riverside pubs have good beer, good food and great views.
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