Under the Wetscape project of Foresters’ Forest we had two days of learning on how to survey rivers using citizen science methods available nationally. The 17 participants came to learn and practice on undertaking a Modular River Physical survey (MoRPh), with training provided by the Environment Agency.
This habitat assessment of a waterway is also assigned a score that enables citizen scientists to compare their brook with other waterways as well as monitor change over time. As there was so many of us we were able to do ten consecutive MoRPhs along the Cannop Brook in the Forest of Dean, making it the first and only multi-MoRPh in Gloucestershire (ten consecutive MoRPh surveys covering at least 1km of waterway).
The following day, Severn River Trust delivered some training about RiverFly, a survey that enables citizen scientists to monitor how good their river is based on the flies that live there (mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies etc) as well as being an early indicator of a possible pollution incident. Following the indoor session, which included a firm reminder not to enter a river when you cannot see the river bed, we came out to face a very swollen Cannop Brook. So only those appropriately equipped were able to have a go at kick sampling the river bed to find the fly larvae.
The two days of training were funded by HLF and will now be followed by a series of monitoring programmes that these newly trained volunteers can take part to look at the fortunes of our forest brooks. This will include Greathaugh brook where beavers will be released into an enclosure later this spring, Cinderford Brook where partners are making a bid for £1 million of river enhancement, and the Blackpool Brook where some trial re-wetting of ancient mires will take place as part of Foresters’ Forest.