Monitoring Planner

The RRC has developed a Monitoring Planner to help you set up, structure and organise your monitoring strategy. The Monitoring Planner is freely available and can be downloaded below, but please contact the RRC if you need any help and support on how to use it. The Monitoring Planner consists of a table with a series of headers where you fill in the monitoring details for each of your project objectives, as shown in the figure below. On the first tab in the excel spread sheet you will find the Monitoring Planner and on the second tab we have provided an example of how the Planner can be filled in. This Planner is already in operation with the 42 projects of the Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF) and it is likely to be adopted by Natural England and SEPA for their large scale restoration projects.

For more details on setting SMART monitoring objectives and specific monitoring techniques, please see our Monitoring Guidance.




If you download and use the Planner, please provide us with some feedback to help us improve it - contact us


The table headers include:

Why – What are the project objectives and the specific targets to be monitored? (E.g. to increase the area of riffles and clean gravel habitats by 80% over 2km of river).

What – What is your monitoring objective and what are you trying to observe? (E.g. to monitor increased habitat diversity and change in macro-invertebrate assemblages).

How – What techniques are being used to collect data and what assessment methods are you using? (E.g. habitat mapping, 3 min macro-invertebrate kick-sampling; α-diversity, PSI index).

Data – Do you have access to any pre-project/baseline data? If not, this needs to be collected. (E.g. previously collected 3 min macro-invertebrate kick-samples from two locations in autumn).

When – When are you collecting data – month/season, duration of monitoring, sampling repeats? (E.g. habitat survey: pre survey 1 month before works; post survey 1 year after. Macro-invertebrates: pre survey spring and autumn samples 1 year before; post survey 1 and 3 years after both including a spring and an autumn sample).

Who – Who are the individuals and/or organisations responsible for monitoring? Ensure all data are comparable. (E.g. habitat mapping in-house by Jo Smith; macro-invertebrate pre survey by third part and in-house by Jo Smith, post survey in-house by Jo Smith).

Cost – Are all costs for monitoring covered by the funding? Note that some techniques might require monitoring to be carried out a few years after implementation. If funding is insufficient, go back to ‘how’ and think about alternative techniques and methods.

Confidence – How confident (High/Medium/Low) are you that the monitoring is robust, suitable and has potential to show what you are trying to observe within the project time limit? If your confidence is low, go back to ‘how’ and consider alternative monitoring techniques.

Evaluation – How will your collected monitoring data be recorded and the analysis outputs reported? (E.g. standard protocols, end of year reports, uploading information to the RiverWiki.


Applying these generic questions to each specific project objective will lead to a clear understanding of what level of motoring is actually achievable.

Monitoring every aspect of your restoration project is rarely realistic and a degree of prioritisation is therefore necessary. At the start of your project, think about what is realistic to achieve within your timeframe. Collecting pre-project or baseline data can be time consuming and within, for example, a three year project, you will probably not have more than one season before the on-the-ground works start. Baseline data collected by a third part can therefore be extremely valuable. However, ensure that the same techniques, standard methods, locations and timing (i.e. time of year/flow condition) are used for collecting the post-project monitoring data.