Godwit standing in a bright blue, rippling body of water, with open beak touching the surface ready to feed

Freshwater and coastal wetlands

Clean rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and wetlands are integral to the survival of life on earth.

Better protection for freshwater

Shallow meandering river with green hills in the background, with rocky shore banks showing how the river has been restored from straight to a more natural meandering path

The RSPB works to secure better protection for freshwater and coastal wildlife and habitats across the UK. It does this by influencing Government policy which affects these habitats.


This includes water quality, water abstraction and natural flood management, as well as issues which affect the wider freshwater catchment area. This is known as a Catchment-Based Approach.  

Our rivers and wetlands need help

Grey heron fishing along a river, stood next to a blue plastic bag that has been littered

Despite progress in some areas, the condition of freshwater and coastal habitats in the UK are largely poor.


This is impacting on the future of the wildlife that depends on them, which face serious decline and extinction without action.

Flooding and natural flood management

Close-up view of a white egret wading through bright green reeds looking to feed

The RSPB supports natural methods to reduce flooding which in turn can create wildlife rich habitats and help counter the impact of climate change.


These include naturally slowing rainwater with hedges and woodland, creating more ponds and reconnecting flood plains.

Wildlife of freshwater and coastal wetlands

Close up view of a Chinese water deer swimming in a body of metallic blue water, with a reflection showing underneath

From bogs and springs which feed upland streams to mudflats and marshes at the mouth of an estuary - the great variety of freshwater and coastal habitats in the UK support a wealth of different plants and animals.

How we’re helping

Close-up view of a very fluffy, light grey mute swan cygnet swimming with a green background

Across the UK the RSPB is demonstrating the best ways to work with and protect freshwater and wetlands. This is helping nature and wildlife recover as well as seeing wider societal benefits, including climate change adaption.