We have published the results of a major habitat survey of streams and rivers in England, Wales and the Isle of Man. Find out how it will help us restore these vital habitats.
Why did we do the survey?
The habitat survey was carried out at more than 4,800 sites between May 2006 and September 2008.
It has provided us with a comprehensive picture of the distribution of habitat features and the extent of river channel modification.
We can also compare the results with the first survey we did during 1995-1997.
Analysis and reports
It has taken us two years to validate and enter more than one million data entries into our River Habitat Survey database, so for simplicity, preliminary analysis and reports have concentrated on three main themes:
- The extent and type of channel modification - because this affects the habitats available for aquatic and riverside wildlife.
- The distribution of riverside trees - because a lack of shading, particularly in upland landscapes, increases the risk of higher water temperature in summer.
- The distribution of invasive non-native plants along river banks - because of the impact on native wild flowers.
What do the results show?
The results indicate that there has been little overall change in the amount of channel modification, riverside trees and two of the three major non-native invasive species (Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed) since 1995-1997. However, 43 per cent of river length is classified as severely modified, many upland streams remain treeless and the invasive species Himalayan balsam has increased in distribution and abundance.
This means that river ecosystems remain under pressure and it will take concerted long-term action to restore the loss and continuing fragmentation of habitats.
What will we do with the results?
The results will help us improve river basin habitats so they achieve the good ecological status required by the Water Framework Directive.
The results will be of interest to river managers, freshwater ecologists, fisheries and conservation organisations, environmental planners, research institutes, universities, and those with a professional or general interest in rivers and their management.
The results will also be used in the National Ecosystem Assessment for England which has been commissioned by Defra. It will be published in 2011.
Download the reports
River basin district reports
- Anglian district (PDF, 1MB)
- Dee district (PDF, 780KB)
- Humber district (PDF, 1MB)
- North West district (PDF, 1MB)
- Northumbria district (PDF, 980KB)
- Severn district (PDF, 1.2MB)
- Solway Tweed district (England only) (PDF, 780KB)
- South East district (PDF, 1MB)
- South West district (PDF, 1MB)
- Thames district (PDF, 1MB)
- Western Wales district (PDF, 1MB)