There are four different factors we look at to decide how healthy a river is; water quality, water quantity, habitat health, and habitat connectivity. If there are any problems affecting these four factors we can work to resolve them, and make our rivers healthier.
To understand what problems our rivers are facing we carry out surveys of rivers, fish, river insects, habitats, and water quality. By collecting this information we can look at the causes of problems. Some of the data we collect can be inputted into computer programmes such as Geographical Information System (GIS), which helps us to decide which areas need our help, and what activities would be the most beneficial for rivers, wildlife, and people.
Sometimes we can identify a single problem such as a weir or single pollution source, but other times the problems might be more complex. Similarly the solution to the problem may be simple, but other times it may require a huge programme of work.
The solutions vary from physical changes to the river or surrounding landscape like peat moorland restoration, tree planting, wetland creation, and weir removals, or some problems may be solved by encouraging people in the area to change their behaviour.
A key part of improving a rivers health is that people enjoy and value rivers. This makes them more aware of the challenges rivers face, and what they can do at home (or out volunteering with us) to improve rivers and our wider environment. This is why engagement and education are key activities for us here at Ribble Rivers Trust.