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Have You Heard About RiverSearch?

Posted: Thursday 27th October 2016 by Volunteering

RiverSearch is doing incredible work for our waterways across Surrey and wouldn't be possible without volunteers.

Loads of volunteers contact us about surveying opportunities and it is an area where we struggle to place people. However, one opportunity which does an amazing amount for Surrey and involves surveying opportunities is the fantastic RiverSearch project, as Glen Skelton, the coordinator tells us.

The RiverSearch project has been running now for over 3 years and in that time has trained 174 volunteers to map and monitor Surrey’s rivers. Volunteers collect information such as habitat quality, wildlife records, invasive species abundance as well as recording any issues they come across. Their hard work has mapped roughly 150km of Surrey’s rivers, helping us to understand what state they are in and enabling us to focus our restoration efforts. Our river restoration projects are only possible thanks to the kind help and support of our volunteers.

As well as keeping an eye on what’s above the surface, we also train volunteers to test how clean the water is by looking at the invertebrates present in the river bed gravels (kick sampling). This method involves disturbing the gravels with your foot and catching the detached species in a net. By looking at the species present we can tell if the water is clean. This has been a very effective method for pinpointing pollution sources as well as building our knowledge of species distributions across the county. We now have 25 regular monitoring points across both the Wey and the Mole. Monitoring groups include RiverSearch volunteers, angling clubs, colleges and other conservation organisations.

RiverSearch is so successful that it has also been rolled out by Kent Wildlife Trust this Autumn on the river Eden. The river Eden has its headwaters in the east of Surrey. Kent have received funding from Sutton and South East Water as well as Kent Mammal group to roll out the project. As such Surrey Wildlife Trust have been delivering training sessions to staff and volunteers.

If you live in the area, want to try something different and would like to get involved please contact Chloe Sadler (

Glen Skelton 

RiverSearch coordinator

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