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Environmental guidance

One of the great things about canoeing is enjoying all the different environments you paddle through.

So when you’re out on the water please consider the following – this way we can all help to keep our wonderful waterways and environments as we found them and avoid accidently disturbing wildlife and their habitats.

  • Take your litter home with you
  • Keep noise to a minimum
  • Where possible keep to any designated paths or launching points
  • Do not “seal” launch or drag boats to avoid wearing away natural banks. Float your canoe for launching, lift out when landing and carry it to and from the water
  • Canoe a safe distance away from wildlife. If you see signs of disturbance move away quietly
  • Familiarise yourself with the local area, its sensitive places and protected areas
  • On rivers, avoid paddling over gravel banks in low water conditions – they may contain fish spawn
  • Ensure you don’t remove or damage any plants or animals from the waterway as they may be protected or harmful if transferred to other catchments
  • When clearing litter left by others, handle it with care
  • Be the eyes and ears on the water. Report pollution, wildlife problems, damage or incidents to the relevant authorities:
    Canal & River Trust, Emergencies: 0800 47 999 47
    RSPCA for wildlife and animals in distress: 0300 1234 999 (24 hours)
    Environment Agency: 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours)


Help minimise the spread of invasive aquatic species and disease before putting your canoe and equipment in and out of the water:

  • CHECK all your equipment and clothing for living organisms and plants fragments. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp and hard to inspect.
  • CLEAN and wash all equipment, clothing and footwear thoroughly away from water source. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them. When practical, completely dry out all equipment and clothing before going to a new site.
  • DRY all equipment and clothing. Some invasive species can live for many days in moist conditions. Dry your kit with towels. Make sure you don't transfer water elsewhere.

Canoeists and kayakers take environmental concerns very seriously and already follow existing voluntary environmental codes of conduct. You can find more information about publications outlining guidance for inland and coastal paddling within the Waterways & Environment section of this website.

Make sure when you are out on the water you are fully equipped and prepared. For more guidance take a look at our Canoeing Safety Guidance