River Action announces today the completion of its crowdfunding campaign to secure funding for citizen science groups across the Wye catchment. A total of £34,000 was raised, which significantly exceeded the initial target of £20,000, with over 230 individual donors contributing.
The funds will secure the procurement of vital river pollution testing equipment for hundreds of volunteers for the rest of this year. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust will also use the funds to hire an analyst to administer the initiative and to assist in the collation and analysis of the data compiled by various citizen scientist groups across the catchment.
According to the recent report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, “a chemical cocktail of sewage, agricultural waste, plastic and chemicals is polluting rivers. Only 14% of all the rivers in England can currently claim to have good ecological status”. A similar situation prevails in Wales with research published by Natural Resources Wales showing that over 60% of the River Wye is failing to meet pollution targets. Volunteer citizen scientists state they are able to research and monitor the river more frequently and with wider coverage than regulator agencies. Campaigners say environmental regulators are not giving a full and timely account of the decline due to the budget cuts these agencies have seen over the past decade.
The Wye catchment citizen science groups who will benefit from the fundraising include:
Charles Watson, Chairman of River Action said:
“Without our volunteer citizen scientists, we would have no means of quantifying the appalling levels of pollution that are impacting our rivers. Every day they are fighting against the daily abuse our rivers face, stepping into the gap left by our defunded statutory environmental protection agencies, whose monitoring and testing capabilities seem to have largely collapsed. We hope this will be the first of many acts of support from River Action for the UK’s Citizen Science movement”.
James Hitchcock CEO of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust said:
“We are delighted that River Action’s crowdfunder has been so successful. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust has supported the inspiring efforts of citizen scientist groups in the Wye catchment since their creation. Their rapid growth has highlighted just how much the condition of our rivers matters to local people. Only through their good, regular data, spread across the catchment, can we guide landowner advice, enforcement and practical solutions to improve the state of our rivers – such as the creation of riparian buffer strips and woodland”.
Tom Tibbits, Chair of Friends of the Upper Wye (FOUW) said:
“Friends of the Upper Wye has blossomed in 18 months from a group of concerned citizens to the catchment’s leading volunteer network with over one hundred test sites being monitored regularly. This extraordinarily successful crowdfunder will enable us to expand our outreach by 50% to 150 sites and the newly funded administrative support for our volunteers will be game-changing. We are so grateful for all the support FOUW has received from all its partners in achieving so much in such a short time, in particular Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and River Action.”
Christine Hugh-Jones of the Campaign for Rural Wales (Brecon and Radnorshire) and the Friends of the Lugg said:
“We are just thrilled by River Action’s hugely successful crowdfunding appeal which exceeded our wildest dreams. Now we can re-equip and expand our local citizen scientist volunteers for our unique collaborative project covering the whole Wye catchment. A special thank you to every generous donor!”