1. Purpose

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This is a ‘living’ document and will be updated as new information and new methods become known.

1.1 How this document can help you

With any river restoration and associated floodplain project it is important to demonstrate its success for wildlife and the extent to which it works with the river‟s natural processes. This can only be done through an assessment of the project and this should also highlight any future adaptation that may be necessary.

Figure1.1: Risk-Scale matrix that is used in the guidelines to help project managers determinate appropriate level of monitoring

To indicate the level of success, monitoring needs to be an integral part of the project process, from inception right through to project signoff and beyond. Sound project objectives, that can be measured, need to be defined from the outset; data collected and analysed can then collectively increase the knowledge base. This can then help identify what techniques, or suite of techniques, are most successful for different river types and project aspirations and demonstrate to government and funders alike how, when and where river restoration can be of benefit for a range of environmental, economic and other ecosystem objectives.

All too often, however, monitoring of a project is not seen as a high priority activity because of perceived financial constraints and a lack of guidance to help develop appropriate monitoring levels and methods.

This document therefore aims to provide a set of pragmatic guidelines to help a range of people, from government agencies to community action groups, to determine the necessary level of monitoring based on a project‟s size and complexity as exemplified in Figure 1.1. In essence this figure indicates that detailed, resource hungry monitoring might be better focused on technically complex projects, but that there is still a wealth of information that can be much more easily gathered from simpler or smaller projects, providing a robust monitoring strategy is stated as part of a project inception.

The document offers the reader a set of procedures to determine an appropriate monitoring scheme, based on project size, complexity, risk associated with the measures, river type and available funds.

Section 2 provides a conceptual outline of this document and details of where to find guidance that relates to specific questions in the process. The guidance also points to a vast array of additional information and data sets throughout the UK in Section 10 and Appendix 14.

1.1.1 What is not covered

This document does not intend to duplicate strategic monitoring guidelines already in place related to the statutory European Water Framework Direct (WFD) as outlined in Appendix 1, such as the UKTAG monitoring guidance, the Common Implementation Strategy (2003) for WFD and the SERCON report (Boon et al 1996) which are generally geared to assessing the ecological and chemical status of whole water bodies. Whilst it is predicted that this guidance document could help to increase the evidence base of specific WFD mitigation measures success, its focus is on wider practical appraisal opportunities.

This document focuses on the linkages between the ecological (wildlife) and hydro- morphological (natural river process and habitat influencing) elements of a river and floodplain restoration project. The social and economic aspects are recognised as equally important and a subsidiary document that focuses on these elements is planned for the future.

1.2 Who will benefit from the guidance?

This guidance aims to assist all practitioners involved in the process of setting monitoring protocols as part of a river restoration project. Because there is a wide range of organisations, with a wide range of knowledge and abilities, this guidance seeks to include monitoring strategies suitable for different groups.

The steps outlined here are therefore intended to support technical staff working for the competent authorities, consultancies and academic institutions as well as organisations with limited funds and a small/volunteer workforce, which may need to demonstrate success to Trustees and other funders.

1.2.1 Key groups

  • Statutory organisations, for example:
    • Environment Agency (EA)
    • Natural England (NE)
    • NatureScot
    • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)
    • Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
    • Rivers Agency of Northern Ireland (RA)
    • Countryside Council for Wales (CCW)
    • Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
    • Local Authorities
    • Water Companies Internal Drainage Boards

Where the focus is on measuring river restoration success for compliance with European Directives and to justify the use of public funds.


  • Non-government groups, for example:
    • Rivers Trusts
    • The Wild Trout Trust (WTT)
    • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) The Wildlife Trusts (WTs)
    • Fishing Clubs
    • The Riverfly Partnership and other partnership schemes
    • Local 'friends of the river' groups

Where there is an aspiration to carry out project monitoring using cost-effective, easily repeatable methods that can be carried out by local enthusiasts, often as part of larger partnership projects.


  • Environmental consultants

Where developing cost-efficient, monitoring strategies to measure successes is essential.


  • Research institutions

Where the principles can help to refine research opportunities and where research opportunities can be used to field test the PRAGMO approach.


  • Funders

Where there is a need to include monitoring as an important element of project delivery to demonstrate that funds have been effectively used. There is also a need to compare the various outcomes from different types of project so that value for money and cost- effectiveness can be assured.

1.3 A living document

This guidance is a starting point. It will be updated as new methods are developed and used and monitoring is completed. Furthermore, whilst this guidance includes some case studies, in the future it will include more examples of the success of all types of monitoring.

As a user of this guidance the River Restoration Centre would encourage you to keep in contact with us so that we can add new methods and projects to ensure it is kept up to date.