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A critical examination of positive changes in river diversity across Europe and links to improving water quality


Andrew Johnson

Date: Monday 19th June

Time: 4:15pm - 5:45pm


Strong evidence exists for increasing national macroinvertebrate and fish diversity (richness) having taken place across English rivers over the past 30 years, where excellent records are available.  Similar evidence exists for positive transformations in macroinvertebrate richness in the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland.  Why is this improvement so broad and happening at the same time?  Why is it happening in rural as well as urban rivers at the same time?  Has broad water quality improved, are river habitats getting better, what is going right and why?  We invite you to debate with us or indeed challenge us on these surprising observations.


Identifying Training Needs for Freshwater Biology and Ecology Professionals – Presentation and Workshop - Based on the Freshwater Biology and Ecology Handbook - 2022


Ethny Childs

Martin Griffiths

John Murray-Bligh


Date: Tuesday 20th June

Time: 12:45pm - 2:15pm

There is a need for structured training and professional development across the freshwater biology and ecology field.


The presentation and workshop aims to introduce opportunities to develop a core training package to meet the current and future needs of water professionals. To meet this need the Foundation for Water Research (FWR) and the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA), with the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) published the Freshwater Biology and Ecology Handbook in June 2022. The book is available free of charge, as an e-document in PDF format on both the FWR/IES and FBA websites at the following link:


The book highlights the principles of biological and ecological water management and assessment.  These principles are common to all water habitats across the world. It provides access to all the core UK and EU documents and methodologies to undertake the robust invertebrate monitoring and assessment programmes needed to manage rivers and instigate improvement programmes, some of which are very expensive.  The book also seeks to set the policy and regulatory context in which we all work, an understanding of which is critical to implement research findings and make real improvements to the water environment.


We have a small budget to develop a pilot training programme based on the book and utilising the knowledge and resources of IES, FWR and FBA.  The workshop will be structured to identify training priorities and methods of delivery to water professionals in the UK, EU and globally. We envisage an accredited training route that will allow recognised qualifications for practitioners in the field. This will include government departments, environment agencies, the water industry, Rivers Trusts and NGOs, as well as researchers and academics.


We hope to provide a suite of training modules for remote learning as well as face to face, and field orientated courses. Some elements could be freely avaiable, and other parts will be paid for.


We intend to structure a project to develop and deliver these training modules. We are looking for partnership and project management capabilities to help us deliver what the profession needs. The workshop will be critical to us developing a product suitable for a wide range of practitioners.


We hope you will join us and assist in the development and delivery of an internationally relevant and high quality training package.

Early Career Field Workshop

Date: Wednesday 21st June

Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm


With field demonstrations by ecologists from the Environment Agency, we will discuss some of the standard ecological methods for sampling rivers for assessing their ecological quality by the UK’s environment protection agencies and citizen science groups.  This will include the measures that we take in the Environment Agency to ensure biosecurity wherever we survey, the RIVPACS method for sampling river invertebrates, including variations used for citizen science riverfly monitoring and for pollution assessments; the DARLEQ method for diatoms; and MoRPh (Modular River Physical survey).  We will also consider the AQEM/STAR invertebrate method used in central Europe. We will cover the various bankside assessments for riverfly monitoring, but we will not be demonstrating laboratory methods or data analysis except for how they influence the sampling.  We will consider some of the health and safety aspects of sampling.  This is a workshop, so we welcome discussion and consideration of other methods and standardisation in general.

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