Conservation projects


© Surrey Wildlife Trust

Monitoring the health of our rivers

A healthy river system is one with a rich diversity of species and habitats all co-existing in clean water. As well as being somewhere we like to spend time, a healthy river can provide us with clean drinking water, flood retention and many more services important in our day-to-day lives.

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More volunteering opportunities

Why are rivers important?

The UK has come a long way since the 1970s, when many of our rivers were inhospitable places to both people and wildlife. We now have the cleanest rivers for decades; however, there are still many challenges we face before our rivers will be in a good ecological state again.

Several key species rely on a healthy river ecosystems. These include the nationally scarce water vole and the otter, which is only just beginning to recolonise Surrey.

What are we doing?

The Trust launched RiverSearch in 2013 to monitor and improve river health on the Wey and Mole catchments. With the help of volunteers, we are assessing and restoring stretches of river across the county to help wildlife thrive in these important habitats.

How you can help

RiverSearch is predominately a citizen science project and we rely on a team of dedicated volunteers to help us monitor their local stretch of river.

River monitoring

After attending a training day, volunteers are assigned a stretch of river (averagely 1km in length) and asked to carry out a mapping survey, during which all features and habitats along the river are mapped and photographed and issues such as pollution reported.

Following this initial mapping survey, volunteers carry out regular walk over surveys once every 3 months keeping an eye out for any issues as well as recording the wildlife and habitats they come across.

Volunteers are managed by the RiverSearch Co-ordinator. The data collected during surveys is used by the Trust to provide evidence to support the management of wetland landscapes.

Aquatic invertebrate sampling

Volunteers have the option to train in aquatic invertebrate sampling as part of the Riverfly Partnership. This sampling helps us to monitor water quality by looking at the fly larvae living on shallow river beds.

Once trained, volunteers can join one of the various monthly monitoring groups that have been set up at different points across the catchments or, alternatively, they can create their own group.

Further training is also available in otter and water vole monitoring as well as wetland plant identification.

River restoration days

The Trust is involved in a large number of river restoration projects which all RiverSearch volunteers will be invited to get involved with. These optional days are a good opportunity to meet other volunteers as well as learn basic river restoration techniques and get hands on with the river.

Water vole feeding

© Elliott Neep