Rivers in the Media

Blue Line

England's water voles in desparate decline

PUBLISHED: 12 MAY 2015   SOURCE: www.theguardian.com; image: Terry Whittaker/Alamy

English waterways could lose one of their most charismatic and once widespread residents as water voles succumb to the invasive American mink, records released by the Canal and River Trust show.


Between 1970 and 1999, water voles were found on 269 of the 2,000 miles of waterways managed by the trust. But since the turn of the century, their range dropped by almost 50% to 141 miles.

Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Canal and River Trust, said the numbers told of a species in desperate decline.


“I very rarely hear good news about water voles. Whether extinction [from England] will occur or whether we will turn the tide I don’t know, but I think it’s certainly in the balance,” he said.


The introduction of the American mink, which have escaped from fur farms in Britain since the 1920s, has been the single greatest driver of decline. Mink are voracious predators and will hunt voles.


“That has driven whole river systems to a complete population crash,” said Darren Tansley, a wildlife officer with Essex Wildlife Trust. “The possibility [that they will become extinct in England] is there if nothing is done to control mink.”


The development of river banks and water pollution has added to the pressure on one of Britain’s most endangered mammals. The industrialisation of river systems during the 1970s and 1980s destroyed the banks where voles make their burrows.


Tansley said although the Canal and River Trust’s numbers were based on ad hoc observations not scientific surveys, they were consistent with the observed decline in all English waterways. Water vole populations are very difficult to estimate, but Tansley said the natural population of tens of millions had now almost certainly dropped below one million.


All counties have suffered “dramatic declines”. A survey in Essex in 2006 found most main rivers “utterly devoid of water voles”. The animal is now extinct in Cornwall. Across the country water voles cling on in isolated pockets, coastal marshes and backwaters where the mink has not found its way. In Scotland water voles have fared better by behaving differently to their English cousins, often living on land and thus avoiding the mink invaders.


Where conservation programmes to control the mink have been put in place, Tansley said the vole population had rebounded. Unfortunately, he said, mink do not pose an economic threat and therefore controlling its spread was not seen as a priority and attracts no funding from the government. The fight to save water voles has been almost entirely led by charities.


The trust has called for the public’s help in a mass citizen science survey of the species – the Great Nature Watch. Robinson asked people to download theeNatureWatch app and log their vole sightings.

Dotted Line

Mississippi River reforestation project could help landowners as well as the environment

PUBLISHED: 12 MAY 2015   SOURCE: www.theadvocate.com; image: Richard Martin / The Nature Conservancy

In an effort to reach a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction goal, Disney is helping pay for a reforestation project in the lower Mississippi River that will help plant trees on 2,000 acres in the next two years.


The program is using private funding from Disney along with Department of Agriculture conservation money to help volunteer landowners plant trees on their property. That money will help pay for about 1,500 acres of the reforestation work. Additional funding is being collected to meet the 2,000-acre goal.


In turn, the amount of greenhouse gases those trees are expected to absorb will help create carbon credits. The carbon credits will be given back to Disney to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to a news release from The Nature Conservancy, another partner in the program.


“They’re doing it as part of their corporate sustainability program,” said Jim Bergan, director of freshwater and wetland conservation at The Nature Conservancy.


There already have been 600 acres enrolled in the program, and the carbon credits have been verified through the voluntary greenhouse gas program Verified Carbon Standard.


“The work in the Mississippi River delta has been putting forests back to where forests were cleared,” Bergen said. “We’re trying to put the forest back together.”


The Nature Conservancy project is expected to help sequester more than 517,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide during the next 70 years.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions calculator, this is equal to the yearly emissions from 108,842 cars or the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the yearly energy use for 47,172 homes.


The way the program works is a landowner first enrolls in a U.S. Department of Agriculture program for one of a couple different conservation servitudes. The options include the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service wetland reserve program for a 30-year easement or the USDA’s Farm Service Agency contract program, generally for a 15-year easement.


Landowners have the option to go with a permanent easement available through the federal government or have the The Nature Conservancy take over the easement. The Nature Conservancy offers $500 more per acre as an incentive, which helps the landowner with more money and also is a benefit to the federal government by freeing up additional money for other conservation projects.


In addition, The Nature Conservancy pays for all of the restoration costs outside of any hydrology work the landowner might need to do.


“We can do some really good projects on private land,” said Kevin Norton, state conservationist with NRCS. “It’s a win for us. It allows us to work with more landowners.”

Dotted Line

Kenya hoping to make a splash with Africa's first public-private water fund

PUBLISHED: 14 APRIL 2015   SOURCE: The Guardian; Image: Georgina Smith/CIAT

In a first for Africa, a public-private water fund was launched in Kenya on Friday, bringing together businesses, utilities, conservation groups, government and farmers to fund upstream water conservation through activities such as watershed protection and reforestation.


The Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund was launched by the Nature Conservancy, a US-based NGO, which has used the same model in 32 initiatives in Latin America. Its partners in Kenya include East African Breweries Ltd, Coca-Cola, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), and electricity provider KenGen.


The 1,000-km Tana river, which flows from the Aberdare mountains north of Nairobi to the Indian Ocean, is Kenya’s longest, and supplies 95% of the water used by the capital’s estimated 3.4 million residents.


Since the 1970s, forests and wetlands in the Tana river basin have been converted to agricultural land. Where water would once have been stored in the soil and filtered, it is now running straight into the rivers, increasing sedimentary deposits. These deposits clog up reservoirs and push up the cost of water treatment.


An estimated 60% of Nairobi’s residents do not have a secure water supply, and demand has grown by 350% since 2004, according to NCWSC.


The new fund will be managed by a trust, which seeks to raise $15m (£10m) to invest in soil and water conservation activities in the Upper Tana watershed. Landowners and NGOs will work upstream to protect the watershed and “harness nature’s ability to capture, filter, store and deliver clean and reliable water”, according to the Upper-Tana Nairobi Water Fund business case report.


The report said a $10m investment will return $21.5m in economic benefits over 30 years, including gains for farmers, Nairobi’s water and sewerage company, and KenGen.


“It’s good economic science and the best we could do,” said Colin Apse, senior freshwater conservation adviser at the Nature Conservancy.


He added that the Zambian capital Lusaka was preparing to launch a similar scheme, with other cities in sub-Saharan Africa also expected to roll out water funds in the future.

Dotted Line

Cambodia Orders Temporary Halt to Sand Dredging

PUBLISHED: 27 MARCH 2015   SOURCE: FRA - Radio Free Asia. Image: RFA

Cambodia has ordered a temporary halt to all sand dredging operations in the country's rivers and lakes in order to study the environment and social impact of a practice that has caused deadly river bank collapse incidents.


The moratorium was set Wednesday at a meeting of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Environment, police and military police


Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem told a news conference that the environmental and social impact studies will determine the future of sand dredging. Much of the sand is exported to neighboring Southeast Asian countries and used in construction.


“The government will also stop issuing any new licenses until the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Mines and Energy discuss with local authorities at all levels first,” he said.

Suy Sem didn’t say when the studies will begin or how long they will take.


Under the policy, holders of sand dredging business licenses must submit new applications, he added.


However, Suy Sem said in order to meet local demand for sand, companies who hold valid licenses can apply to extend their permit dredge sand at existing dredging sites. They will not be permitted to open new dredging sites during the moratorium period.


“In order to avoid illegal sand dredging, we can extend licenses to meet sand demand," he said, promising quick approval to applications to continue existing dredging.


Suy Sem said that there are 142 sand dredging companies operating in Cambodia, but only 37 of them have licenses.


“Companies whose licenses are expired must stop to avoid breaking the law. We are working hard to extend their licenses in a short period of time, but if they continue to operate, they will be prosecuted, “he said.


Military Police Commander in Chief Sao Sokha said he would cooperate with the two ministries to stop illegal sand dredging.


Minister of Environment Say Sam Al said the government will conduct studies along rivers, tributaries and the sea coast to determine which areas can sustain exploitation of sand.


He rejected the notion that dredging was the sole cause of river collapses and landslides, saying natural erosion was also a factor.

Dotted Line

IRF Allumni News Feed

Blue Line
5 1

Contribute to our River News!

Blue Line

Would you like to write a story on something river related in your area?  To do so, send us an original article that is 500 words or less (.txt or .doc files only), upload a picture in jpeg format (max 2mg) and if we like it, we’ll post it on our site as well as send you out an IRF gift pack.

Select an article to upload.
Select an image to upload.


Blue Line
Archive 2015
-  May
-  April
-  March
Archive 2014
Archive 2013
Archive 2012
Archive 2011
Archive 2010

Privacy Statement

Blue Line

International Riverfoundation is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of personal information. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to protect personal information in our care.

How do we collect personal information?
We may request information about you when you purchase or make enquires about our products and services; when you enter competitions or register for promotions or when you request brochures or other information. We may also collect information when we invite you to complete surveys or provide us with feedback.

What personal information do we collect?
We collect information that is required for use in the business activities of International Riverfoundation This may include: name; mailing address; e-mail; telephone number(s); financial details necessary in order to process various transactions and any other information you may elect to provide to us.

How do we use personal information?
We may use personal information to provide information and services. International Riverfoundation may use the information for related purposes such as:

Identification of fraud or error
Regulatory reporting and compliance
Internal accounting and administration
Servicing our relationship with our customers by, amongst other things, providing updates on promotions and services we think may interest you or to involve you in market research.

Is the information disclosed to third parties?
We may disclose information about individuals as permitted by law. We may share information with regulatory bodies and law enforcement officials, provide information to protect against fraud and share information with your consent.

Security of information
International Riverfoundation has implemented appropriate physical, electronic and managerial security procedures in order to protect personal information from loss, misuse, alteration or destruction. International Riverfoundation regularly reviews security and encryption technologies and will strive to protect information to the fullest extent possible.

Access and correction of personal information
We invite you to access and correct any personal information we may hold on you. To do this, you need to contact us by email at info@riverfoundation.org.auThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to make the necessary enquiries.

Should you no longer wish to receive information on services we think may be of interest to you , kindly email us at info@riverfoundation.org.auThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Linked Sites
Our website may contain links to other sites. International Riverfoundation is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such websites. We encourage you to read the privacy statements of any linked sites as their Privacy Policy may differ from ours.

Feedback & complaints
We welcome your inquiries or comments about our Privacy Policy. Should you have any comments or complaints please contact us at info@riverfoundation.org.auThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Changes to our privacy policy
From time to time it may be necessary for us to review and revise our privacy policy. We reserve the right to change our privacy policy at any time.


Terms of Use

Blue Line

This website is owned and operated by International RiverFoundation.

Use of this website is subject to the terms of use.

International RiverFoundation is not liable to you or any other for any loss in connection with the use of this website or a linked website. This general disclaimer is not restricted or modified by any of the following specific warnings and disclaimers. Please read the full terms of use.
Please note: International RiverFoundation reserves the right to amend the terms of use at any time. However, since you are bound by these terms of use,  you should periodically refer to them.



General Disclaimer

International RiverFoundation is not liable to you or anyone else for any loss in connection with use of this website or a linked website. This general disclaimer is not restricted or modified by any of the following specific warnings or disclaimers.
Specific Warnings and Disclaimers

The Trade Practices Act and similar State and Territory legislation in Australia may confer rights and remedies on you in relation to the provision by us of goods or services on the Website, which cannot be excluded, restricted or modified. We do not exclude these rights but do exclude all other conditions and warranties implied by custom, law or statute.

We are not liable to you or anyone else if interference with or damage to your computer systems occurs in connection with use of this website or a linked website. You must take your own precautions to ensure that whatever you select for your use from this website is free of viruses or anything else (such as worms or trojan horses) that may interfere with or damage the operations of your computer systems. We do not warrant that your access to the website will be uninterrupted or error free or that any defects will be corrected.

We may, from time to time, change or add to this website (including these terms of use) or the information, products and services without notice. However, we do not undertake to keep this website updated. We are not liable to you or anyone else if errors occur in the information on this website or if that information is not up-to-date.

Under no circumstances (including but not limited to any act or omission on the part of International RiverFoundation) will International RiverFoundation be liable for any indirect, incidental, special and/or consequential damages or loss of profits whatsoever which result from any use or access of, or any inability to use or access, the website.

In these terms of use, certain words (particularly capitalised ones) may have special meanings. If they do these special meanings are set out in the "General" section.

The terms of use are effective until terminated by International RiverFoundation and International RiverFoundation may terminate this agreement and your access to the website at any time without notice. In the event of termination you are no longer authorised to access the website, but all restrictions imposed on you and all disclaimers and limitations of liability set out in the terms of use will survive.


This website is our copyright property. You are provided with access to it only for your personal and non-commercial use. Other than for the purposes of and subject to the conditions prescribed under the Copyright Act 1968 or any other applicable legislation throughout the world, you may not, in any form or by any means:  
•    Adapt, reproduce, store, distribute, transmit, print, display, perform, publish or create derivative works from any part of this website; or
•    Commercialise any information, products or services obtained from any part of this Website without our written permission.


International RiverFoundation products and services referred to in this website are trade marks of International RiverFoundation. Other product and company names mentioned in this website may be the trade marks of other people or entities. Nothing contained in the website should be construed as granting any licence or right of use of any trade mark or part of any trade mark displayed on the website without the written permission of International RiverFoundation or third party owner.


This website may contain links to linked websites. Those links are provided for convenience only and may not remain current or be maintained. Links to those websites should not be construed as any endorsement, approval, recommendation or preference by us of the owners or operators of the sites, or of any information, products or services referred to on those other sites unless specifically stated. Unless otherwise stated the linked websites are not under the control of International RiverFoundation and International RiverFoundation is not responsible for the contents of any linked website. You link to any such website at your own risk.


In this website:

"IRF" means International RiverFoundation unless otherwise specified.

"linked websites" means websites of persons or entities other than International RiverFoundation which are hyperlinked from this website.

"Personal Information" means any information from which your identity is apparent or can be reasonably be ascertained.

"website" means the whole or any part of the web pages located at www.RiverFoundation.org.au (including the lay-out of this website, individual elements of the website design, underlying code elements of this website, or text, sounds, graphics, animated elements or any other content of this website.)
"We" and "us" refer to International RiverFoundation, and "our" has the same meaning.

These terms of use are governed by the laws in force in Queensland, Australia and you irrevocably and unconditionally submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Queensland, Australia and any courts which may hear appeals from those courts.

Nothing contained in these terms of use derogates from International RiverFoundation right to comply with law enforcement requests or requirements relating to your use of this website or information provided to or gathered by International RiverFoundation with respect to that use.

© 2007-2010 International RiverFoundation
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without consent.


Online Contact Form

Blue Line

To send us a message, please fill in the required field (*), then press the submit button.  The subject and/or message fields may be prepopulated with information pertaining to your enquiry.


(Title Dynamically Inserted)

(Player HTML Dynamically Inserted)
(Caption Dynamically Inserted)

(Dynamically Inserted)

Blue Line

IRF eNewsletter Subscription

Blue Line

Thank you for your interest in subscribing to our eNewsletter.  Please take the time to fill in a couple more bits of information so we know a little bit more about you.  All your information remains secure and private for our records only.

Please also put me in the Riverprize
marketing database

Apply Online

Blue Line

In order to begin the online application process, please fill out some simple details for us and select which application you'd like to complete. Text fields with asterisks are mandatory. You will then be emailed a secure link to your online application form which you can access at any time.

Note: When your country is chosen a list of available contests for which you are eligible will be presented.

We're Sorry! There are no Riverprizes currently open for your country at this time. Please contact us regarding Riverprize opening dates.