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October 23, 2013

Rivers of interest

Wherever you live in Scotland, you’re never very far from a river. For most folk, the extent to which they connect with their ‘local’ river might be no more than a vague awareness of its source or where it flows to. But for others, a much deeper relationship exists with the ecology and watery wellbeing of their favourite stretch of river. Groups who take a special interest in their rivers have sprung up all over the country and earlier this month eleven of them got together.


Citizens, groups and agencies from eleven Scottish rivers gathered for an unprecedented all volunteer event, “Exploring Our Rivers:  A Scottish Rivers Networking Day” in Grangemouth Town Hall on 9th October.  Over 100 attendees took part in this history-in-the-making day which was a Year of Natural Scotland 2013 event.  Included were River Avon, River Ayr, River Carron, River Clyde, River Doon, River Forth, River Garnock, River Girvan, River Irvine, River Stinchar and Water of Leith.  

Following on a discussion with Helen Brown, Water of Leith Trust Manager, who stated that more of the “friends of river groups” in Scotland might benefit from a networking day, Communities Along the Carron Association (CATCA) decided to host the event and Falkirk Council Development Services came forward with the funding.   


The event was particularly important as it came during a time when the Scottish Government is seriously examining the environmental impact that people and industries are having on the land and waters. The all volunteer event followed on the heels of the government’s recent Litter and Marine Litter Strategy Consultations.  

Paul Wheelhouse BPA/MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change said “The regeneration, conservation and maintenance of the water environment in Scotland is important to us all. Scotland’s River Basin Management Plans set objectives to protect and improve the ecological quality of our water environment. Partnership working is key to meeting these objectives, the Communities Along the Carron Association is an excellent example and hopefully bringing other groups together will be a good networking opportunity to share ideas.” 

The event included classroom style presentations from various experts, researchers and river volunteers, stalls from 22 groups and agencies, and a viewing of the Jeremy Irons’ film “Trashed”, followed by a panel discussion on the impact of the plastic industry on our waters, both rivers and oceans.   The response to the film, of the 100 delegates, was a stunned silence until the panel discussion allowed the airing of questions and concerns.  

The presentations of the day ranged from the reintroduction of salmon in the River Clyde to natural flood management on the Allan Water. In between classes and during a network buffet lunch, visitors were able to visit stalls and engage in helpful conversations with a wide array of river-related groups and agencies:  Falkirk Invasive Species Forum, CATCA, Water of Leith, Local Biodiversity Action Plan, Larbert and Stenhousemuir Angling Club, Linlithgow Angling Club, River Avon Federation, SEPA, Slamannan Angling and Protective Association, Ayrshire Rivers Trust, Forth Invasive Non-Native Species project, River Forth Fisheries Trust, Centre for River EcoSystem Science (CRESS), Keep Scotland Beautiful, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Rory MacPhee Boatbuilder, Scottish Water, FIDRA, Marine Conservation Society, Scottish Natural Heritage, Falkirk Environment Trust, and Forth Environment Link. 

“One of the goals of CATCA was to bring together ‘the man on the street (or river)’ with the university sector, to help foster a conversation which is so important to both sectors, as they have much to learn from each other,” said Ian Howarth, Chairman of CATCA.  “The older anglers, for one, know the rivers inside and out and have much natural wisdom to share.  The researchers such as those at CRESS and University Marine Biological Station Millport, have a lot to tell us about water quality issues, current and future research.  Much more can happen to address these issues at the practical level, if we don’t all work in isolation.”  

Delegates left this unique event having made new friends, shared valuable information, sparked new ideas, new inspiration and new hope for the future of all of Scotland’s rivers.  

Links to presentations and photos will be available at by the end of October.  

For further information on CATCA’s projects and events, contact CATCA Project Leader Christine Bell at  

For further press information and photographs, contact Michelle MillerAllen at or at 07720648317.