The Rights of Rivers Motion: Protecting Rivers for Present and Future Generations

A wide shot of a UK river on a cloudy but bright summer day

Creating a Sustainable Future for Rivers and Humans Alike

Protecting the Rights of Rivers

Lewes District Council recently passed a Rights of Rivers Motion to protect the River Ouse in East Sussex. This is a groundbreaking move as there are only a few rivers in the UK that are currently protected by law. We believe that this motion is the first of its kind in England. Co-authored by ELF’s own Emma Montlake, Tom Brenan, and Cllr Matthew Bird, the motion seeks to safeguard the river from pollution, climate change, and land use changes while upholding environmental flows, natural river processes, and local communities’ rights. 

An innovative Charter will be developed to redefine human-river interaction, giving rivers a voice and promoting sustainable river systems. This Charter will have a huge impact on the River Ouse and the biodiversity within it, as well as the upstream and downstream communities that are affected by the river. It will ensure environmental flows, natural river processes, and local communities’ rights are respected and protected.

Ensuring Sustainable River Systems

The Charter will be designed to revolutionise the way humanity interacts with the River Ouse, returning it to the way it has been used for thousands of years by all creatures that inhabit the river. It will provide a safety net for the river, protecting it from pollution, climate change, and land use changes, so that future generations can reap the benefits and use it wisely.

Giving a Voice to Stakeholders

The Rights of Rivers Charter will mark a reform in the way humans interact with nature. It encourages understanding and respect towards nature and the rivers and is a necessary step to ensure the protection of these incredible resources. ELF is proud to have initiated this movement in Lewes District, along with Green Party Councillor Matthew Bird, and the LDC, and the community is excited for the positive changes it will bring.

Reflection and Responsibility

The Charter is an essential document for establishing sustainable river systems. It will outline expectations for those involved in the management and use of the river and grant a voice to all stakeholders in terms of decision-making. A collaborative environment will be created for all stakeholders in order to ensure rivers are protected in the long-term. Moreover, it will serve as a reminder for people to reflect on their relationship to nature and to protect these invaluable resources for future generations. The Rights of Rivers Charter is an opportunity for a better future – one where our rivers can thrive, and humans take responsibility for their interaction with nature.

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