BART have been running a ‘Rivers for Wellbeing’ project that aims to reconnect communities with their local rivers and streams to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Research shows that spending time by water can help you to feel happier and healthier, and BART believe that our rivers and streams are the perfect places to relax, recharge and learn more about your local freshwater environment.
BART hosted two river dipping sessions in Wotton Under Edge along the Little Avon in June and July to educate the younger generation about the wildlife that lives in the nearby river, and to reconnect them with their local blue and green spaces. The sessions involved sampling invertebrates using nets, which they then transferred into trays to later identify using our freshwater trail ID guides. These minibeasts are crucial for our rivers, and are an important food source for other wildlife. The children learnt how invertebrates can be used as an indicator of water quality, with some species being more tolerant of pollution and poor water quality than others.
The first event was hosted on the 26th June, with the Wotton-Under-Edge beavers group joining BART for a wonderful evening of sampling and identifying invertebrates. The children thoroughly enjoyed this new experience, and even brought along their own high-tech microscope to look at the creatures more closely! The children learnt about what makes rivers unhealthy, and what they can do to help look after them and why our watercourses are so important to us.
The second session was hosted on the 3rd July, with a year 1 class from The British School in Wotton- Under-Edge joining BART for a rather wet but fun-filled morning. The group of 30 children also thoroughly enjoyed the session, with some of the children saying it was the best day of their lives!! Small groups took in turns to get into the river and fish out the invertebrates, which were then taken and separated into divider trays for identification. The session was finished off with a mini-raft building activity, where the children worked in groups to forage for natural materials and then build their best rafts. We then raced them down the river, and said goodbye to the fascinating minibeasts that they found.
A big thank you to South Gloucestershire Council for funding these events.