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Why UK rivers are so important

Our rivers are arguably our most important natural features. Not only do they help make the British landscape so picturesque and vibrant, they’ve been crucial for the growth of our towns and cities, providing fresh water for drinking and farming, and for our business and transport over centuries.

Some of our most beautiful rivers are ‘chalk streams’. Their pure, clear, constant water from underground chalk aquifers and springs, flowing across flinty gravel beds, make them perfect sources of clean water – and ideal for lots of wild creatures to breed and thrive. We’re lucky because the majority of the world’s chalk streams are found in England.

But far too many of our waterways have been overused and undervalued. Drained almost dry in places, and polluted in others. Less than a fifth of England’s rivers are healthy, and climate change is putting more pressure on them. Our rivers need help.

 

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About England’s chalk streams

Our chalk streams are unique – with most found in southern England (and a few in France). Which makes them all the more special. They are a haven for iconic species like the otter, kingfisher and salmon, which is why we work to protect them.

But a combination of population growth, a spiralling increase in water use and pollution have put huge pressure on our rivers and streams. And research shows that a third of the water we take from rivers is wasted.

We can turn this around – we know that our rivers can keep providing water for people and nature if we look after them properly. Help us keep our rivers healthy!

England’s chalk streams

The majority of the world’s precious and unique chalk streams are found in England – from Yorkshire down to Dorset.

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About UK rivers and chalk streams

Our rivers not only help make the British landscape so picturesque and vibrant, they’re also a vital source of fresh water for people, industry, farming and wildlife.

Our chalk streams are unique – there are only about 200 chalk streams in the world, and most of them are in the southern half of England (with a few in France). Which makes them all the more special.

But a combination of population growth and a spiralling increase in water use have put huge pressure on our rivers and streams. And research shows that a third of the water we take from rivers is wasted.

We can turn this around – we know that our rivers can keep providing water for people and nature if we look after them properly. Help us keep our rivers healthy!

 

Watery wonders or ruined rivers? The State of England’s Chalk Streams report provides a health check for our chalk streams and reveals that over three quarters of them are not in good health.

WaterLIFE – we are currently leading an exciting project with The Rivers Trust and Westcountry Rivers Trust to improve the health of our rivers.

Find out more

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