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Rivers are as essential to us as they are to the wildlife that lives along them

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. 

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.

What is RiverSearch

RiverSearch is a network of trained volunteers across Surrey who monitor the health of the county’s rivers and the wildlife associated with them.

The RiverSearch project has been operational across the river Wey and river Mole catchments since May 2013.

In that time we have gone from strength to strength building a large community of volunteers who are all working to improve Surrey’s rivers for both people and wildlife.

RiverSearch provides opportunities for anyone with an interest in wetland wildlife and habitats to take an active role in preserving and enhancing them.


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 any issues 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 to provide evidence to support the management of Rivers and Wetlands and their wildlife including:

  • The improvement in the ecological status of water bodies as required by the Water Framework Directive
  • The improvement of habitat connectivity in line with the Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes strategy http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/what-we-do/living-landscapes
  • The recovery of Surrey’s otter and water vole populations
  • Managing Non-native Invasive Species
  • Mapping change on the river over time and picking up issues quickly

Further Training

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 which 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 id.

River Restoration

During 2018 we will be involved in a large number of river restoration projects for volunteers to get involved with. These are a good opportunity to meet other volunteers as well as learn basic river restoration techniques and get hands on with the river. More details will be available in spring.

Registering your interest

Due to the overwhelming interest in this project, we are temporarily at capacity for RiverSearch volunteers.

Please check back soon! 


Otter Spotter Guide >>






FilenameFile size
Otter Spotter Guide.pdf776.91 KB