River Thames is thriving wildlife habitat in need of protection says international conservation charity

The murky brown water of the River Thames is actually masking a habitat thriving with life, says international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), as they launch a new public-awareness campaign Mother Thames today (Sunday 7 April 2019).

As all eyes turn to the River Thames for the annual Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, ZSL is calling on spectators to pay attention to what’s going on beneath the surface of the famous London waterway.

Declared biologically dead in the 1950s, the River Thames is now a hub of life thanks to dedicated conservation efforts – and a shining example of how wildlife can be brought back from the brink.

Encompassing ZSL’s annual grey and harbour seal census, European eel monitoring and oyster restoration projects, as well as many citizen-science initiatives, the Mother Thames campaign will culminate in the publication of the first report into the status of the River Thames in more than 60 years.

This autumn ZSL will publish the ‘State of the Thames Report’, supported by the Royal Bank of Canada, a comprehensive scientific analysis of wildlife in the Thames which will, for the first time, define the indicators for assessing the health of the UK’s iconic river.

Identifying the key markers of a healthy river habitat, using evidence and statistics gathered from more than 30 nature conservation and research organisations, the Report will enable ZSL and its partners to demand action and commitments from the UK Government, business and industry – from shipping and fishing to development – and communities working in or along the river to protect the Thames.

ZSL’s Senior Conservation Programme Manager for UK & Europe, Alison Debney, said: “The River Thames is integral to the fabric of London, providing the venue for famous cultural events like today’s annual Oxford Cambridge Boat Race or the Henley Royal Regatta, but it’s also a glorious wildlife habitat – despite what many Londoners might think.

What may look like murky brown waters is actually a river thriving with life, and ZSL is working to ensure it stays that way. From nurturing juvenile fish populations to providing a life source for the city, the River Thames is an example of Mother Nature at its finest.

“The State of the Thames Report, which will be published this autumn, will pool data and expertise from more than 30 nature conservation and research organisations to give a cutting-edge overview of the state of the Thames from source to sea, including highlights and examples of when and how conservation has worked.”

“Throughout 2019 we will be inviting Londoners to get involved in Mother Thames, be that helping us to monitor wildlife in the Thames, or simply buying a re-usable drinking bottle. There are so many ways that both Londoners and visitors to our Capital city can help us to protect this precious habitat for the future.”

To find out more about ZSL’s Thames conservation projects and the Mother Thames campaign, visit zsl.org/Thames