RRC South East Training Course

On 23rd May 2016, 30 participants from the South East and further afield gathered in Sundridge, Kent for a day of river restoration project delivery training. It was the second of five RRC courses funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, for trusts partnerships and community groups. Find out more about the support we provide to such groups here >>.The setting for the day’s activities was the River Darent, a chalk river and tributary of the Thames.

Monitoring techniques and project scoping

The morning was spent beside a rural reach of the Darent, on farmland grazed by dairy cattle. One half was spent learning techniques for project monitoring and evaluation:

  • Luke Mitchell (Imperial College London) demonstrated a popular citizen science friendly fish habitat surveying method, which he developed through his pHD.
  • Judy England (Environment Agency) demonstrated invertebrate sampling and explained the five key monitoring principles, featured in our Monitoring and Evaluating River Restoration projects factsheet >>.
  • Will Barber (River Restoration Centre) talked through the use of fixed point photography as a monitoring and evaluation method. An RRC factsheet on how to used fixed point photography will be available soon.

The second half of the morning was spent practising project scoping. The Upper Darent water body is not achieving good ecological status under its Water Framework Directive classification due to a moderate score for fish, which gave some clues as to where problems may lie, and how restoration along the reach could contribute towards catchment goals. Participants identified problems including cattle poaching, with no restrictions upon livestock access to the river, and a gauging weir. They were then tasked with planning how they would spend £10,000 to restore the reach. 


River restoration techniques and project delivery

After lunch, first up was a short presentation from Martin on river restoration techniques and best practice approached to project delivery. Participants then had a chance to refine their project plans from the morning session, defining success criteria through setting clear project objectives.  

Focus then turned towards our case study for the day, the Sundridge Weir bypass channel, a 2015-16 Catchment Partnership Action Fund project, planned and delivered by a partnership of South East Rivers Trust (SERT), North West Kent Countryside Partnership, and the Rivers Trust. After a brief presentation from Chris Gardner of SERT talking through the key stages of the project delivery, we headed outdoors to visit bypass, now connected for three months. Participants had the chance to view the bypass, and discuss what had worked well, whether anything could have been done better, and how the new channel would develop over the coming months and years.


Thanks to all who attended and contributed towards the success of the day. We will be running further project delivery training courses in the coming months, which will be advertised via the usual channels, or contact us for further details. All the presentations, handouts and other outputs from this course are available here >>


What they said...

...Very good location, as it incorporated a section that needed fixing, a place for meeting and a restored section. It gave me on-the-ground ideas for approaching river restoration, the project management stages to follow and consider, plus useful references on RRC website. Thanks for organising the event!...

...I am much more confident in proposing and planning projects with a prospect of success...

...It was really valuable to share solutions and best practice with other organisations in the sector who have experienced similar challenges...

...The course provided a great opportunity to meet other people carrying out similar projects and discuss  lessons learnt. A huge amount of useful learning was packed into the day with lots of useful insights from river restoration practioners...

...A very enjoyable and stimulating workshop...



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