Soil is currently being destroyed 10 times faster than it is being created. This is not only putting the farming sector at risk and costing England & Wales £1.2 billion a year, but it is also negatively affecting the health of our rivers.
A new report by WWF, The Rivers Trust and The Angling Trust shows that spending approximately £10 million a year on soil protection measures would ensure a future for agriculture and reverse the decline of our rivers. This is of particular importance as only 14% of rivers in England are classed as ‘healthy’; of which a contributing factor is poor land management and the loss of soils.
The government’s target of ensuring three-quarters of rivers, lakes and wetlands in England are in good health in 2027 would boost the economy by a total of £8.4bn through increased tourism, recreation, improved flood resilience and enhanced quality of life.
Why are healthy soils so important? Firstly the underpin large parts of our economy and livehoods, including farming productivity and functioning ecosystems. Soils help to pruify out water, support wildlife, increasing biodiversity and nutrient cycling.
Agriculture uses around 70% of the land are in the UK, and so has a huge role to play in keeping our rivers healthy. Furthermore, agriculture and land management accounts for roughly 75% of the sediment load in our rivers. This is a particular problem for rivers as this can lead to the transport of pollutants bound up in the sediments whilst also smothering spawning gravels, affecting filter feeding species and looking unsightly. However, the majority of this can be reduced by implementing simple measures; local catchment partnerships, such as Becks to Bay, may be able to help with offering advice as well as potentially funding measure to reduce soil loss and improve the water environment. If you would like support or know of any local issues then our partnership would love to hear from you.
You can read the full report here.