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British Canoeing welcomes DEFRA’s 25 Year Environment Plan

British Canoeing welcomes DEFRA’s 25 Year Environment Plan, the long anticipated strategy for the environment released earlier this year. 

British Canoeing’s Access and Environment Consultant Estee Farrar has prepared a detailed report on the 25 Year Plan and how it is relevant to our sport. You can read Estee’s report in full here, but below you will find the highlights which are both relevant and important for paddlers. 

How is the Plan relevant to canoeists?

Paddlers love being in the outdoors. Our sport encourages canoeists to engage with the environment in many settings, from urban watercourses, through to countryside waterways and remote, wild rivers.  Canoeing enhances people’s health and pleasure, increasing fitness in the outdoors in an enjoyable way, engaging with nature directly.   

The 25 Year Environment Plan (the Plan) is relevant to paddlers, as it outlines key action areas, which include ‘connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing’.  The link between the health benefits of access and engagement with nature is acknowledged, aiming to open it up to ‘people from the widest possible range of ages and backgrounds’.  

The Plan acknowledges the significance of public rights of way, protection of natural assets and pledges to invest in more green and blue infrastructure.  It also mentions legislation around enabling access and improving the environment. British Canoeing supports measures which may enable increased access to the countryside and waterways, helping more people to participate in outdoor activities.  

At present, we are in a time of change and it is essential that government, non-governmental organisations, businesses, communities and individuals work together to re-establish and improve nature. A number of issues affecting paddlers, to be addressed in our access and environment campaign which we are currently taking to members around in the country in our roadshows, are identified in the 25 Year Environment Plan.  By actively embracing the ideas put forward, paddlers can help to implement and action the relevant pledges in the Plan, putting them into practice on waterways and within daily routines.  If more people have better access and are able to paddle for health benefits, to enjoy nature and the environment, we can all play a part in actively helping to improve it.  

Environmental Issues Affecting Paddlers

The problem of single use plastics, our national ‘throwaway’ culture creating litter and invasive non-native species are all major environmental issues that affect paddlers.  Plastics that are not disposed of properly in local areas end up in rivers, and if they are not removed end up in the sea, causing problems for marine wildlife. Meanwhile, non-native species contribute to a decline in native species, ultimately leading to the threat of extinction in 15% of native species in our waterways.  The Check Clean Dry initiative has been developed to raise awareness of the increasing prevalence of INNS and to prevent further spreading them amongst waterway users.  


British Canoeing supports the pledges made in the Plan and in conjunction with our upcoming campaign, provides a great opportunity for us to work with the Government and paddlers to facilitate positive change for the environment and encourage people to be more active in the outdoors.  

We encourage paddlers to be proactive with regards to the environment.  To contribute at any level can make a difference: effective legislation needs to be instigated, to ensure that the positive pledges made are effected and words are transformed into action.   

If you would like to read the full report written by Estee on the DEFRA 25 year plan, please click here.