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The charity making life better by water

Paddling and the environment

The diverse natural environment of our canals and rivers is one of the reasons they're such special places to paddle.

Take to the water and you’ll get right up close to some of the country’s finest and rarest wildlife.

Canoeing in a Canadian Canoe

We want future generations of paddlers to enjoy the same experience that you enjoy at the moment. The ability to paddle along peaceful corridors of water, rich with flora and fauna.

We're asking you to follow a few simple steps to make sure that you don't accidentally disturb any waterway wildlife.

Launching and landing

Our canal and river banks are home to some of the country's rarest wildlife, including the endangered water vole. Please don't ‘seal' launch or drag boats into the canal as it can damage the bank. Float your canoe for launching, lift out when landing and carry it to and from the water.

Where possible please keep to any designated paths or launching points

On the water

When you're on a river, please avoid paddling over gravel banks in low water conditions – they may contain fish spawn.

Try to keep as quiet as possible. By keeping any noise you make to a minimum you're bound to see more wildlife.

Constantly assess the wildlife around you. If you see signs of disturbance move away quietly

After your paddle

Our waterways are home to many invasive species and we need to stop them spreading wherever possible. When you're out and about on the water your small craft and clothing can pick up fragments of plants and tiny creatures that we don't want in another stretch of canal or river.

When you've finished your paddle please make sure to thoroughly clean all of your equipment and clothing. You'll save us time and money battling invasive species, meaning we can spend more on making our canals and rivers even better places to be.

Useful contacts

Please report any pollution, fly tipping or fish in distress to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

If you see any birds or animals in distress on please call the RSPCA on 0990 555999 (24 hours).

For more information Download Paddle UK's You, your canoe and the environment leaflet.

Last Edited: 10 April 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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