The Riverfly Census in Wales
Through our S&TC Riverfly Census, a three-year survey using species-level invertebrate analysis, we are currently analysing results from the 12 rivers that kicked the survey off in 2015. We continue to unlock the power of water insects and diagnose the health of rivers nationally- and this is not just limited to England.
The Census method was so well received that in 2016 three Welsh rivers were added to the initial 12 English rivers: the Usk, Clwyd and Eastern Cleddau. This year we are collecting the final samples to complete the three year picture.
We will be analysing the Welsh results early 2019, then taking the results to local stakeholders and campaigning for action.
So far it is clear that current regulations are not rigorous enough to detect the extent of the problems threatening the base of the food chain.
Fact-based scientific evidence like Riverfly Census data can be a great platform to push for better, more effective guidelines to protect our wildlife and a rethink on the existing policies in place.
What is the Riverfly Census?
Water insects live for months, sometimes years, below the surface in their nymph stages. Because different insects have different tolerances to pollution, the presence or absence of certain species is a simple but effective way of finding out what pressures a river might be experiencing.
Using a consistent method of sampling, we are able to evaluate the health of rivers by evaluating the bugs that we find there, and using this data we can take action for cleaner rivers.
Although it is still too early to present the main conclusions of the Census, for the core survey rivers it is a clear fact that deterioration is largely a result of phosphate and sediment pollution, even on rivers with the highest level of conservation protection such as the River Itchen.
Read more about the Riverfly Census here.