Guardians of our Rivers

Guardians of our Rivers © Rebecca Lewis

“Guardians of our Rivers” is a partnership project that will connect communities across Scotland with their local rivers and the invertebrates that call these places home.  Freshwater wildlife across the UK is under threat as the rivers, streams and other freshwater habitats they live in have been damaged and/or polluted.  Freshwater invertebrates are an essential part of the ecology of our rivers. 

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Quick Facts:

  • Name of Project:  Guardians of our Rivers
  • Project Launch Date: October 2022
  • Location of Project:  Across Scotland
  • Species benefiting from Project:  Freshwater invertebrates and other wildlife
  • Project funded by: Swire Charitable Trust, Highland & Island Environment Foundation (HIEF), Hugh Fraser Foundation, The Northwick Trust and Animal Friends Pet Insurance

What will the project do?

The Guardians of Our Rivers project will recruit, support and train local people who would like to get involved in monitoring the health of their local river.

Training will be delivered by Buglife’s qualified Riverfly Partnership trainer, offering certified training to volunteers and creating a network of Citizen Scientists across Scotland.

We will provide training and support on how to:

  • monitor and survey rivers for invertebrates;
  • identify species of invertebrates;
  • share stories and lessons learnt between communities;
  • spot early warning signs of habitats in crisis, e.g., from pollution or climate change;
  • and record their findings to environmental agencies and recording schemes.
Buglife's Rebecca Lewis Surveying for Riverfly Buglife's Rebecca Lewis Surveying for Riverfly

This will be delivered free of charge to individuals, groups and/or organisations who are interested in monitoring their local waterways.  Trained groups will then work with Buglife and the environment agency to establish monitoring sites. Data collected will be entered into an opensource UK wide database.

Once established, groups will have access to ongoing support and information to help them become confident and secure with the methods and identification of the invertebrates found in their rivers

The UK has over 3,800 different species of invertebrate that spend all, or part of their lives in rivers, ponds and other freshwater habitats. These include mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies (collectively known as riverflies) as well as dragonflies, water beetles and pond skaters.

Freshwater living invertebrates play a vital role in maintaining clean water- they help to break down and filter organic matter and provide a food source for fish, birds and mammals. Their presence is the standard indicator of the health of the habitat they live in. However, many of our freshwater invertebrates are declining in the face of pollution, invasive species, abstraction and development.


Guardians of our Rivers - Surveying for Riverfly Guardians of our Rivers - Riverfly Survey

How can you get involved?

Unhealthy rivers are not attractive places to spend time in, on, or by – they do not foster the sense of belonging that people and communities need. Through this project, communities will be empowered to become ‘River Guardians’ of their local rivers and to deliver change through greater understanding of what constitutes a healthy river.

We are seeking volunteers to become Citizen Scientists, helping to monitor their local rivers and upload the results into the Riverfly Partnership national database.

You can also get involved through a series of illustrated project talks, community led events and story sharing days between communities.

For more information on how to get involved in our “Guardians of our Rivers” project please contact Rebecca Lewis (Conservation Officer – Scotland) at [email protected]

Guardians of our Rivers - Surveying for Riverfly Guardians of our Rivers - Surveying for Riverfly
Colin Beattie MSP - Rivers Nature Champion @uartlach
Colin Beattie MSP – Rivers Nature Champion

Rivers Nature Champion:

Colin Beattie MSP

  • Member for: Midlothian North and Musselburgh
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Find out more about Scottish Nature Champions

Guardians of our Rivers” is funded by Swire Charitable Trust, Highland & Island Environment Foundation (HIEF), Hugh Fraser Foundation, The Northwick Trust and Animal Friends Pet Insurance

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