Project Lead: The Welland Rivers Trust
Project Funding: Tesco Bags of Help Fund + Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation grant
The Welland Rivers Trust are training a network of local River Warden volunteers to help us monitor and protect the River Welland and its tributaries.
- Primary objectives:
- To prevent the decline of, and improve the Water Framework Directive status of the River Welland and its tributaries
- Wider objectives:
- To provide wider benefits to society by:
- Reconnecting and engaging rural communities with their rivers
- Increasing the public’s appreciation of the unique Welland environment and their participation in its conservation
- Creating a better amenity for rural communities to enjoy, thereby improving societal health and wellbeing
- Identifying potential flood risks to reduce flooding impact on rural communities
- To provide wider benefits to society by:
The Welland Rivers Trust (WRT) are developing a catchment-wide citizen science monitoring programme to better monitor the state and conditions of the Welland catchment.
The WRT are training local residents to become volunteer River Wardens across the largely rural Welland catchment in Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.
The River Warden Scheme will give people who care about the River Welland and their local environment a chance to:
- Work with the Welland Rivers Trust to provide river monitoring on a short stretch of the River Welland (or a tributary of the Welland)
- Record wildlife and river features – information which adds to our knowledge and helps the authorities to make good decisions about managing watercourses
- Monitor wildlife including plants, invertebrates, and mammals – information which helps in understanding trends and identifying changes in the health of the ecosystem
- Record and alert the WRT and Environment Agency on pollution incidents – allowing a quick response to deal with the pollution event
- Record invasive non-native species such as Himalayan Balsam – so that species distribution maps can be produced, allowing for catchment-coordinated action to remove and eradicate them
- Report fly tipping and littering – it can be a large threat to people, wildlife and fisheries
- Record localised flooding and other river issues in the community
- Act as a point of contact in the community about river initiatives, raising awareness about the environment and liaising with the Welland Rivers Trust
The River Wardens will ‘adopt’ a stretch of river to suit their mobility, interests and location. Wardens will undertake periodic checks and monitoring of their adopted river stretch. On each visit the wardens will survey and record:
- Invertebrate biodiversity
- Water quality (testing for nitrate, phosphate, acidity, ammonia, and temperature)
- Invasive species (e.g. Signal crayfish)
- Important wildlife sightings (e.g. Otters)
This information is being fed back to the WRT’s Project Officer, who is mapping the data, and supplying data to the Environment Agency.
The River Warden Scheme allows rural communities to take action that will help conserve their river environment. Through simple monitoring techniques, our Wardens are able to detect any severe perturbations in river water quality, and the WRT will be able to put Wardens in direct communication with a local contact from the Environment Agency. The River Warden Scheme is running alongside the routine monitoring of the EA, ensuring a combined effort to survey water quality more widely and frequently, and that action is taken at the earliest opportunity should any severe perturbations be detected.
At the Welland Rivers Trust, we want the river to be at the heart of rural communities. We believe that community involvement is key for the conservation and restoration of the River Welland and its entire catchment area. In addition, by encouraging local residents to take part in nature conservation, our River Warden scheme directly benefits the health and well-being of the volunteers taking part.
In July 2018, we began training 8 separate River Wardens groups, covering areas including Market Harborough, Welham, Braunston, Allexton, Harringworth, Stamford, Uffington and Deeping St James (see below map).