What is SmartRivers?
SmartRivers - a member of the Riverfly Plus citizen science family - enables volunteers, supported by a training scheme, training videos, an invertebrate-identification App and support programmes, to monitor the water quality in their rivers to a near-professional standard.
Nature's nursery is under stress
Salmon & trout are extremely vulnerable in their early freshwater life stages. The water in which they live must be pollution-free and plentiful in order for them to successfully mature and complete their life cycle.
Currently, the ideal conditions to maximise 'nature's hatchery' for salmon and trout are not being met in our rivers. These young fish are being subjected to subtle, and often invisible pollutants in the very water in which they live. Each of these pollutants has an environmental cost, leading to more stress in our fish and poorer quality salmon and trout.
Invertebrates are here to help
Invertebrates live in the same habitat as fish, so are experiencing the same water quality pressures as young salmon and trout. Through SmartRivers we are using invertebrates as a diagnostic test to understand more about the subtle pollutants 'stressing out' our fish. They are easier and cheaper to sample than fish, and also show more revealing responses over time than the spot water samples used by regulators.
Analysing invertebrates this way has been thoroughly tried and tested through our Riverfly Census project – so we know it works!
SmartRivers is the diagnosis our fish are depending on
No other volunteer riverfly monitoring scheme goes to species-level.
SmartRivers is not a programme to just collect data for its own sake. By processing your species data through our unique calculator, SmartRivers analysis can pinpoint what the problems are and where they are occurring, allowing us to control what is controllable and drive real improvements to the quality of water flowing through our rivers.
Only by prescribing our rivers the right 'treatment', will we achieve the conditions required to support sustainable populations of wild salmon and trout.
THE SMARTRIVERS PROCESS
SmartRivers monitoring has four steps
What training is required?
To launch a SmartRivers hub on a new river, we collect a one year professional benchmark and provide two day-long courses for groups of volunteers*:
*Unfortunately we can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers and not for individuals. However, if you are struggling to establish a 'hub' group your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!
Once a hub is enrolled into SmartRivers, a one year (spring and autumn) benchmark sample is collected by our professional team at your five chosen monitoring sites.
This benchmark becomes a key part of your training and will be the reference point we will compare all volunteer monitoring against.
DAY 1: SAMPLING TRAINING
Teaches you how to take a three-minute kick-sweep sample to professional guidelines and preserve it in alcohol for later identification to species level.
You will be shown how to identify the different habitats in your stretch and divvy up your three minutes sampling time accordingly.
DAY 2: ID TRAINING
Teaches you how to carry out species-level identification using our App.
Rather than having to learn ID of all aquatic invertebrates, we teach you how to identify your river's expected species, obtained from our benchmarking work.
Pick your pathway
We appreciate that species identification is time consuming and not everyone's cup of tea, so we offer hubs the choice of two SmartRivers pathways:
If you choose the sample and identify option, you will be collecting samples at your chosen sites and identifying them to species-level yourself.
You will send your results to us and we will calculate biometric stress scores and provide a report for each sample site.
INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS
Register Your Group
Why & how to get involved in SmartRivers
We're already working with angling clubs, Rivers Trusts and many others to create a robust programme - but we need your input too!
Riverfly Partnership experience is valuable, but not essential. What is essential is a long-term commitment to improving and protecting our rivers.
We do not underestimate the challenge to grow the SmartRivers network, but we have the resources to help you meet the challenge.
If your club or group is interested in being part of SmartRivers please email email@example.com
We can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers, but if you are struggling to find additional volunteers your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!
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We rely on your support to protect wild fish and the places they live.
By donating or joining as a member you will be making a huge contribution to the fight to protect the UK's waters and ensure a sustainable future for wild fish.