Rivers have shaped landscapes over millennia, arteries of fresh water that have carved paths through rock and soil from source to sea. As they bring life, so any kind of disruption like droughts or floods can take it away. As I write this, storms have triggered flooding across England, with rivers bursting their banks, damaging homes and infrastructure. It’s just a taste of what is to come, as research shows climate change can increase the probability of heavy rains by 40%. Rivers have provided humanity with a good place to set up home for thousands of years. It is now, as we micromanage the landscape like never before, that a swollen waterway threatens the most disruption. In the words of Wendell Berry: “Men may dam it and say that they have made a lake, but it will still be a river. It will keep its nature and bide its time, like a caged animal alert for the slightest opening.”

There are other human impacts too: pollution and reduced space for other living things that can help keep rivers healthy. As our relationship with Nature frays, the threads connecting us become all the more precious, and people across the world are fighting to protect the rivers they love – and winning. In this issue of Resurgence & Ecologist we meet some of the people doing just that. Vandana K investigates grassroots activism in India, and Nicola Cutcher celebrates a recent victory by citizen scientists in Ilkley, England. Li An Phoa walks along the river Meuse, and Derek Gow brings beavers back to Britain.

With many of us still living in isolation under the dark cloud of Covid-19, Julian Abel explains why being compassionate is good for us, and Russell Warfield speaks to Rutger Bregman about his book Humankind. In Arts, Louisa Adjoa Parker interviews poet and nurse Romalyn Ante about migration, and how the care industry has shaped her life and that of her family in the Philippines.

We hope these stories will, like spring buds and vaccines, help light up the darkness.

In another, more sombre, celebration of life, we are also very sad to share news of the death of Peter Abbs, whose wisdom and talent have helped nourish Resurgence over the last 40 years. We miss him.

Marianne Brown is editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.