Upstream Battle

Did you know that marine litter isn’t always a result of human activity at sea? The problem usually starts on land! Our Upstream Battle citizen science programme gets students, teachers, volunteers and other citizen scientists out collecting litter at key upstream sites, such as beside rivers, lakes and streams to help create a better understanding of the root causes of ocean pollution.

Marine litter is a huge concern with the National Geographic estimating that 80% of ocean litter globally comes from land. It’s then often brought indirectly to the sea by rivers, sewage, storm water, or winds, polluting ocean ecosystems and harming both wildlife and humans.

There are very few details known about this litter though – for example where it comes from (and how much) or what exactly is making its way from the land to the ocean through our waterways. We believe ocean conservancy begins with a better understanding of the root causes of ocean pollution and through our Upstream Battle programme we hope to get a better picture of what’s going on. That’s where you come in!

Our Upstream Battle programme is aimed at schools, community groups and volunteers throughout New Zealand who would like to contribute the solution.

By registering for an Upstream Battle you’ll receive:

  • Engagement in real-world data collection and meaningful action towards Keeping New Zealand Beautiful
  • Participation, training and experience as a citizen scientist
  • A comprehensive resource pack including:
    • Upstream Battle Event Guide – with guidance on how to complete your litter survey and tips on how to make your event a success
    • Upstream Battle Survey Sheet 
    • Equipment Checklist
    • Risk assessment and emergency procedure protocols
    • Health and safety information
    • Digital certificate 
    • Clean up resources (gloves and bags) on request
  • Access to Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s support team
  • Updates on other community led and education programmes
  • A great day out with your school, community, whānau and friends, doing your bit for kaitiatikanga o Aotearoa

For schools, we also offer:

  • Inquiry-based learning linked to a diverse range of learning areas of Aotearoa’s curriculum
  • New Zealand Curriculum links 
  • Risk Assessment Management Sheet (RAMS)
  • A simplified Upstream Battle Survey Sheet  (suitable for primary school aged children or younger)

The data collected from Upstream Battle and its sister programme, Backyard Battle (that focus’ on inland litter) will provide a secondary dataset to our National Litter Audit.  Together the data will feed into a shared database that will help to inform local and national legislation, our community led programming and behaviour change campaigns.

Upstream Battle is based on a similar citizen science campaign conducted by our sister organisation Keep Scotland Beautiful, on the rivers Clyde and Tay. We’ve recently partnered with Keep Scotland Beautiful to share knowledge and programmes for the benefit of communities on both sides of the globe.

Register your Upstream Battle: