THE environmental charity Tweed Forum has announced its River Champion for 2022.

John Clayton, an ecologist and citizen scientist from Tweedbank, received the title in recognition of his work monitoring and conserving riverflies in the River Tweed catchment.

Aquatic insects (invertebrates) are a vital food source for young salmon, trout and other fish in the Tweed. They also help break down waste such as leaves and twigs and indicate the health of a river.

Having worked as a river ecologist for many years, in his retirement Mr Clayton has continued to look after this environment, monitoring six sites along the Tweed and recording invertebrate population data for the Riverfly Parternship database.

Mr Clayton said: “I’m really delighted to receive this Award, not just for myself, but also because I hope it will promote the importance of the Riverfly project and of the monitoring schemes I participate in.

"The River Tweed is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and invertebrates are an intrinsic element of the whole ecosystem.

"They’re known as the canary of the river and are a sensitive indicator of water quality.

"I’d encourage anyone who loves the river to get involved in helping to monitor these important species.”

Border Telegraph: Tweed Forum River Champion 2022, John Clayton. Photo: Phil WilkinsonTweed Forum River Champion 2022, John Clayton. Photo: Phil Wilkinson (Image: Phil Wilkinson)

The Tweed Forum River Champion award is celebrating its seventh year.

The award recognises the work by an individual from either the Borders or North Northumberland who has worked to protect and enhance the River Tweed Catchment.

Tweed Forum Director, Luke Comins, said: “Aquatic insects really are crucial to the overall health of the river network so John’s work, and that of other citizen scientists who help to monitor invertebrate populations, is vital.

"As well as showing where habitat may need to be enhanced and water quality examined, his work is also fostering an interest in science and sustainability in the local community.

"He is passionate about the river and we believe he is a very worthy winner of this year’s Tweed Forum River Champion Award.”

The Tweed Forum River Champion is chosen from public nominations and can include work in the Tweed catchment on wildlife preservation, flood prevention or land management.

Previous Tweed Forum River Champion winners include Frank Turnbull from Coldstream (2016), Jim Sinclair from Galashiels (2017), Eric Hastings from Drygrange (2018), Tom Rawson from Melrose (2019), Edward Cawthorn from Berwick Upon Tweed (2020) and JohnTullie from Teviothead (2021).