Following the news of River Action’s expansion, we are pleased to welcome Molly Allen as our new Communications Coordinator. In our latest blog, we get an insight into her life, interests, and the role that she will play to help rescue Britain’s rivers.
Tell us about yourself…
I have always had a deep fascination with the natural world – especially for the wild and most remote places. I grew up in south Devon, where I spent most of my time feeding this curiosity through literature, art, and watching (many!) wildlife documentaries. I studied English at the University of Exeter and, during my second year, I was offered a job to work as a guide for an expedition organisation in British Columbia, Canada. Since then, I have been primarily working in the expedition sector, leading tours and projects across Iceland and western Canada.
Last year, I moved back to the UK, where I currently split my time between London and Devon. When not inside, you will usually find me trail running, hiking or kayaking (quite badly!).
How did you become interested in river protection?
I’m fascinated by rivers. They’re dynamic and mysterious, and they’re home to an incredible array of wildlife.
When first stepping into the environmental sector, I was surprised by how little attention our freshwater environments get compared to other habitats, such as tropical forests or coral reefs. I think what freshwater conservation needs now is for the level of support to be brought into line with what you’ve got for tigers, pandas, orangutans and all the other species and habitats that get most of the attention, and I believe that River Action will play a key part in this. I am very excited to be part of the team, and I look forward to playing an active part in protecting and restoring our rivers for the benefit of communities and wildlife.
Tell us about your new role as Communications Coordinator
In a nutshell, I am responsible for planning and coordinating the communications of River Action’s campaigns. It is a varied role, which I love, and it includes responsibilities that range from empowering local communities to protect their rivers to advocating for change in national policy and industry practice. Our campaigns will reflect the urgency with which we need to act and we have ambitious plans. So watch this space!
In your opinion, what needs to change in order to rescue Britain’s rivers?
Our rivers are arguably our most important natural features. Not only are their fragile ecosystems home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, but they have also been crucial for the growth of our towns and cities and provide fresh water for drinking and farming. To put it simply, without our rivers, we simply could not survive. Yet, the state of our rivers and waterways is disgraceful. In order to enable change, we need everyone to understand that protecting these freshwater habitats and their wildlife is ultimately in their own interest too.
Furthermore, with regulators for rivers in the UK hugely underfunded and understaffed, citizen science’s roles in local communities are fundamental to our campaigns. They are our ‘eyes on the water’, able to see and report both great and subtle changes to the overall environment. There is a real need for local communities to hold polluting industries and failed government regulators to account and clean up their mess. We are focusing on empowering local communities by giving them the knowledge and tools that will enable them to collect detailed information about our waterways and drive the change that our rivers so desperately need.