CPRE North Yorkshire makes Celebrating Rivers its priority

A North Yorkshire charity is standing up to protect local rivers - both as places to enjoy and as vital and threatened parts of our ecosystem.

The River Wharfe is just one that CPRE North Yorkshire is aiming to protect

CPRE North Yorkshire, the countryside charity, has launched a new campaign to celebrate and protect North Yorkshire’s threatened waterways. The charity, which campaigns for a countryside that enriches all of our lives, with green spaces that are accessible to all, is addressing major pollution issues that resulted this year in every English river failing Environment Agency standards on chemical health. The new initiative, entitled Celebrating Rivers, aims to help people to enjoy our rivers responsibly, and to encourage them to take action to ensure a cleaner, healthier future for our rivers and waterways.

"Our rivers are not just beautiful places to walk or relax, they're also habitats for threatened wildlife and vital parts of the ecological system,” says Rosy Eaton, CPRE North Yorkshire Biodiversity Lead. “But all too often, we don't give our rivers the care they deserve. Sewage overflow, littering, and agricultural run-off can make rivers toxic for wildlife and people, and once done, the damage is often hard to reverse.”

North Yorkshire is threaded with many beautiful rivers, such as the Wharfe, Nidd, Swale, Ure, Ouse and Derwent. They are home to magnificent wildlife, including popular favourites like otters, dippers, kingfishers and freshwater pearl mussels, and they have shaped the landscape and the county’s history, determining where people lived, what they made and how they travelled and traded. Throughout the remarkable times of 2020 and 2021, rivers have also provided a therapeutic escape from the pandemic for so many who have sought solace in swimming, fishing, boating, paddling and walking along some of the most tranquil spots in the country.

Janet's Foss waterfall in Malham, Yorkshire Dales

Nevertheless, Environment Agency analysis last year showed that only 14 per cent of English rivers are in good ecological health, and shockingly, none were classified as being in good chemical health. CPRE North Yorkshire is now asking people to add their voices to this campaign.

"If we want to protect our rivers for future generations, then we need to act now,” explains Rosy. ”We'd like everyone to get involved: supporting charities like CPRE, writing to MPs and counsellors, reporting problems and litter, and changing behaviours at home.”

To encourage people to make the most of North Yorkshire’s waterways, the charity has curated a set of beautiful river trails around the county that everyone can enjoy, including accessible walks, activates, and top tips for places to spot stunning wildlife like otters, kingfishers and salmon.

CPRE’s objective is for a countryside with sustainable, healthy communities, which is available to more people than ever before. To find out more, join the charity, donate or volunteer, please visit www.cprenorthyorkshire.co.uk.

The River Swale at Wains Wath is something to be treasured