London's Thames has beaten-off stiff competition to win a prestigious eco award

The River Thames has been awarded the world’s largest environmental prize for making an astonishing ecological recovery in the last 50 years.

London’s iconic waterway was selected out of hundreds of rivers across every continent as the winner of International Theiss River Prize, which celebrates outstanding achievement in river management and restoration.

The Thames – which was up against the world-famous Yellow River, in China, Hattah Lakes, Australia, and the Smirnykh Rivers Partnership, in Japan – scooped the award thanks to a dramatic transformation from a biologically dead river in the 1950s to one that now has returning salmon, otter and sea trout populations.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said, “The Thames is one of our most precious assets, so I am thrilled to see that efforts to improve and preserve its good health are being lauded on the world stage. Congratulations to all those who have played a part in this success.”

The Environment Agency has pledged that the $350,000 AUD (Australian Dollars) prize money will go to the Thames Rivers Restoration Trust. Part of the prize fund will also be used by the Trust to establish a twinning project to help restore a river in the developing world.

The chemical quality of the rivers within the Thames catchment classed as ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’, has improved from 53% in 1990 to 80% in 2008 while the estuary supports viable shellfisheries and is a nursery ground for commercial sole and bass stocks.

Since April 2005, the Environment Agency has complete 393 habitat enhancement projects and nearly 70 km of river has been restored or enhanced.

Find out our best spots to stop along the Thames with the London Marina Guide.