Start Date: 08/09/2022 End Date: 08/09/2022
Making Rivers Better was a free networking event for citizen scientists coordinated by Blackdown Hills AONB on behalf of East Devon Catchment Partnership. It was held at Broadhembury Memorial Hall (near Honiton) on Thursday 8 September 2022.
The event comprised river walks, networking opportunities, talks on river citizen science and interactive workshops.
Making Rivers Better provided an opportunity for members of the public interested in or already involved with river citizen science to:
- Meet with community groups, technical specialists and local experts to explore how to work together to benefit our local rivers.
- Find out about how to get involved in volunteer activities happening in local river catchments.
- Learn about river survey results and what they mean.
- Discover how the results of citizen science informs action on the ground.
Making Rivers Better
What happened at the event?
Participants joined experts and specialists for walks along the river Tale near Broadhembury to discover and discuss techniques to monitor water quality, flooding, wildlife, the health of the river, and what citizen science is telling us about the actions we all need to take.
- The value of citizen science data – Helen Dobby, Environment Agency Area Director
- Farming in sensitive water catchments – Sam Parris, Blackhayes Farm
- Understanding statutory monitoring and what the results mean – Environment Agency
- What citizen science monitoring tells us and how can it help – Westcountry Rivers Trust and Axe Vale Rivers Association
This graphic illustrates the essence of the talks and discussions that took place:
Following the Making Rivers Better event, we have pulled together a list of proposed actions.
If you are able to help deliver any of these actions, please download and complete the proposed actions form and email your response to email@example.com.
We are also interested in hearing from you would like to challenge or add to any of the proposed actions.
1. Continue to support citizen science groups
Continue to support citizen science groups with obtaining the kit they need for monitoring and help provide training (budget permitting). What do groups need?
2. Engage South West Water
Engage South West Water at all levels, in water quality related impacts.
3. Liaise with the Environment Agency in relation to citizen science data
Liaise with the Environment Agency (EA) citizen scientist lead and senior staff to further develop the use of citizen science data in EA monitoring and reporting. Potentially use the East Devon Catchment Partnership (EDCP) area as a pilot for this.
4. Form a citizen scientists’ discussion group
Form an EDCP citizen scientists’ discussion group that feeds back actions needed to the EDCP. Some possible topics could include:
- Working with the Environment Agency and other organisations to help volunteers set objectives for their monitoring: What do they want to achieve? Why are they doing it? What do they expect to do with the data they collect? What do volunteers need from organisations, to help them achieve their aims with the monitoring they undertake?
- Workshop-style events to work through specific questions – for example: What does my data mean? When is something bad? – and site-based focus sessions. This could involve bringing in experts. This could also be a place to decide together how to move forward to tackle issues highlighted by citizen science data.
- Tackling issues and problems affecting East Devon Catchment Partnership (EDCP) catchments at source and build catchment resilience, rather than ‘sticking plaster’ approaches. What does this look like?
- Creating a citizens science toolkit. Building on the Making Rivers Better case study to better explain,
- What citizen science water-quality readings mean
- Biological monitoring including beavers
- Nature-based solutions
- Flood risk and invasive species.
We need to be aware of local variation due to geology, soils, land use, etc.
What already exists?
5. Look to fill gaps in CSI and Riverfly monitoring in the EDCP area
6. Explore options for nature recovery
Explore options for nature recovery at all scales including:
- River (and stream) restoration projects
- Wetland and other habitat creation/restoration
- Restore natural processes at reach, holding, catchment and landscape scale, including rewilding approaches and linked networks of habitats
- Use all of the above to restore functioning ecosystems.
Are there volunteer opportunities in this?
7. Liaise with Environment Agency and local authority flood risk teams
Liaise with Environment Agency and local authority flood risk teams to incorporate flood monitoring into citizen science activity. How do we link to flood wardens?
8. Support Local Catchment Plan activity
Support Local Catchment Plan activity, piloting innovative and integrated nature-based solution approaches. Which roles suit volunteers and which are better suited to organisations? Where does the risk/liability lie?
9. Engage and involve the farming community
Engage and involve the farming community at all stages, in terms of explaining what citizen science activity is being carried out and why, plus gaining a better understanding their farm businesses. What support tools are needed? Farmer champions? What land-use change is possible/needed (alongside other measures) in order to get the water environment into recovery?
10. Aim to have an annual Making Rivers Better event
Aim to have an annual citizen science Making Rivers Better gathering/ celebration/skill-sharing event in the East Devon Catchment Partnership area (resources permitting). These would be hosted locally and held at different locations on rotation.
11. Match volunteers with volunteer opportunities
Create a match-maker service between keen volunteers and volunteer opportunities. Create a live list with signposting to the main contacts.
Making Rivers Better updates
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