On Wednesday of last week we ran the first RRC training course of 2017 – Introduction to hydromorphology for river restoration and NFM – in Wilmslow on the River Bollin. We were really pleased with the turnout – 33 attendees and four facilitators which made for plenty of interesting discussions and perspectives (though in a somewhat cosy space during the morning).
Participants hailed from multiple corners of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and represented government agencies, consultancies, the third sector and academia; an excellent diversity. One thing they all did have in common was a desire to learn the basics of hydromorphology, a fundamental science of river form and function. A good understanding of basic hydromorphological principals allows better insight into the causes of common problems, the possible impacts of our actions (good and bad) and opportunities to undertake river restoration and some natural flood management techniques.
The morning started with some theory lessons interspersed with activities and discussion, led by Marc Naura and Martin Janes. We were also lucky to hear a short presentation from Lee Swift of the Environment Agency about applied geomorphology in the Wimslow area and the EA perspective.
Shortly before lunch, we split into four groups to apply the learnings from the morning to real case studies with flood risk, ecological improvement and bank protection elements. This generated some interesting questions and some great ideas for what we could have done on those projects – I would like to suggest that we introduce a new 33-strong advisory panel for all of our projects from now on!
After a delicious buffet lunch featuring a few too many profiteroles (or perhaps that was just me…) we all walked down to the River Bollin to complete more activities using our new-found knowledge. The Bollin through the Carrs at Wilmslow features a very interesting comparison between a downstream stretch that has been heavily modified, and a much freer upstream reach demonstrating active erosion and deposition features. The modified reach has steep, uniform banks and little habitat diversity, highlighting the impacts of managing rivers heavily. We followed this activity with a good group discussion on possible management measures that could be undertaken (or avoided) at the site and similar sites.
We finished the day with a summary presentation from Marc and Martin including some further tools and resources that are available for those wishing to know more.
Thanks to everyone who came for bringing your excellent experience, questions and enthusiasm – these are critical elements but ones that are difficult to plan for. Thanks also to Lee for giving up some time to assist, and to the Bollin Catchment Partnership for their prior information and advice on the Carrs site.
We are very much looking forward to planning the next courses for the year, and will of course keep you all posted – watch this space!