Join environmental voices at the UK River Summit

Debating the issues affecting waterways, showcasing our river restoration and demonstrating how to remove invasive non-native species will be among contributions by the South East Rivers Trust at the UK River Summit on Tuesday 21st May.

The event, from 9.30am to 7pm, will bring together international environmentalists, businesses, organisations who protect rivers, plus the public at Morden Hall. The grounds of this National Trust property has the River Wandle, a precious chalk stream, running through its park.

This south London river has special resonance for SERT, which began as the Wandle Trust in 2002 – and our Co-CEO Dr Bella Davies will be among the speakers on the opening panel.

In the morning session, Dr Davies will be sharing the floor to discuss the importance of rivers and their challenges at the second ever annual UK River Summit. The event has been designed by Zambuni Communications to bring the public and thought leaders together.  

Dr Davies will be sharing the floor with panelists including campaigners such as Fish Legal’s Penny Gane and actor Jim Murray (The Crown) representing Activist Anglers. 

Leading a river walk
Our staff will be leading a river walk

In the afternoon, campaigners, representatives of water companies and politicians will come together to debate and hear about issues affecting rivers. Topics include The Freshwater Emergency, the Future of Farming and Effective Policy in Rivers.

Removing balsam
Our volunteers tackle Himalayan Balsam, one of several invasive species in rivers

SERT will be taking the opportunity to mark national Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Week by hosting an INNS workshop alongside the National Trust, who own and run Morden Hall and its park. This will offer expert guidance to give attendees the chance to understand the importance of controlling species such as floating pennywort and Himalayan balsam. These species inhibit our rivers and their wildlife. Attendees will have the chance to learn how native plants can be encouraged to thrive instead along the River Wandle, a precious chalk stream.

We will also be leading in-river guided walks, exploring a section of the Wandle that our volunteers have restored. Summit participants will have the chance to learn about the Wandle’s history, wildlife and restoration work. They will see how this section has benefited from our volunteer work, having been turned from a straight river into a meandering haven for fish and invertebrates.

At the end of the day, SERT Catchment Officer Dr Jack Hogan – also representing The Fly Connection and President of the Wandle Piscators – will be giving a talk on the history of the Wandle.

Various short films will be shown during the day, demonstrating the plight of rivers, including “Wandle: A River at Risk”, a documentary on sewage spills into the waterway.

Dr Davies said: “We are excited to welcome the UK River Summit to the River Wandle in May 2024. The Wandle is a historic chalk stream at the heart of a diverse, vibrant community and it’s especially poignant for the South East Rivers Trust as this is where we began our work in 2022. Since then, we’ve learned that engaging people with river habitats is key to protecting and restoring them. We look forward to supporting the event wholeheartedly.”

Watch the video below to find out how the shape of the River Wandle at Morden Hall Park has changed through our volunteer work.