Assessing the Health of our Rivers
The Riverfly Partnership runs an invertebrate monitoring scheme which is of keen interest to anglers and wildlife enthusiasts alike who share a concern for the present and future health of our rivers.
The monitoring scheme, called the Angler’s Riverfly Monitoring Initiative, is based on counting key river invertebrate groups as a method of assessing river quality. Many invertebrate groups are extremely sensitive to pollution levels and therefore their numbers act as an early warning of any potential problems.
Each month between April and September eight different invertebrate groups are counted. Surveys typically take about an hour and give immediate feedback to the monitors on the condition of the watercourse. In the event of a reduced count, the Environment Agency is contacted and any potential pollution incident can then be investigated.
In addition to the Angler’s Riverfly Monitoring Initiative, a new Riverfly Extended Scheme has recently been designed. This new system adds a further twenty-five invertebrate groups to the existing eight, expanding this to thirty-three groups. This enlargement achieves two main goals:
- It provides more detailed data on streams and rivers. Two new biotic indices using Riverfly Extended Scheme data have also been developed to detect and measure pollution. The addition of these makes full use of the more detailed data gathered by the scheme.
- It provides a training pathway for volunteers to improve their identification skills. The chart, funded by the Vitacress Conservation Trust, is now available to citizen scientists and the wider public from the Freshwater Biological Association website.
The Riverfly Extended Scheme is supported by a new identification chart and new training workshops, both of which have proved very popular with volunteers. It is hoped that the addition of this new Extended Scheme will encourage greater engagement in Riverfly monitoring and attract new volunteers to this fascinating subject. This will help to preserve and conserve the valuable wildlife of our streams and rivers.
In 2022 a national program of practical workshops is planned. The training includes background information on how the Riverfly Extended Scheme was developed as well as hands-on bankside sessions for the identification of the thirty-three invertebrate groups.
For several years the Vitacress Conservation Trust has provided support for Angler’s Riverfly Monitoring and more recently, has been instrumental in supporting the development of the new Riverfly Extended Scheme.
If you are interested in becoming a River Monitor, please contact:
Angus Menzies at Dorset Wildlife Trust, 01305 261 687 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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