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Lessons from Nature: Rivers

29th October 2021

Rivers have always felt like a bit of a getaway for me. The way they can wash out the noise of busy roads or warehouses makes it feel like you’re closer to rural areas than you are. I have always been close to rivers, whether it’s the River Aire where I live now, in Thackley or the River Humber and River Hull in Hull. I always found places for contemplation by rivers and walking along the River Aire is where I had the idea to write about them!

During my degree I tried to steer as much as my studies towards rivers as possible, which showed me the range of things we could learn about them.  One thing I enjoyed looking at is the movement of material, this could be anything: boulders, pebbles, rubbish or pooh sticks.  It’s easy to assign our binary day and night cycle to the processes in the world, as we go to sleep everything else does with us, but the processes are constant and are always changing and carving the landscape around us.  I’ve noted small changes in the land around the River Aire, changing meanders, steeper banks, how the flow changes.

Have you ever seen an empty bag of crisps in a river and thought, “let’s check if there’s a best before date on this to see how long it has been in the river system”?  Probably not, but if for some reason you were to you could be surprised to know that the crisp packet has been floating around our rivers for more than 10 years (it might even have an old design if you are extra lucky!)  You can even place rubbish to its exact source, industrial waste has been traced back to factories tens of miles upstream.

One of my favourite news stories from the past year has been the reintroduction of beavers into the UK wild. Beavers that can have a massive effect on the area around rivers because of their crafty building skills and can change entire ecosystems through their dam building.

If you’re able to get to a river, make the journey and talk a walk along its course I personally find it relaxing to look at how it changes, where wildlife likes to settle and if there is any rocks being transporting; maybe you would too!

By Ryan Passmore, Marketing and Projects Assistant