River Habitat Survey Certification Course

Jane Prady, RRC Science & Technical Support Officer

River Habitat Survey Course, Warrington 21st – 24th March

At the end of March I attended the RRC's River Habitat Survey Certification course. It was one of the first RHS courses to be held post-pandemic and it was fully booked. Before the course had even begun, I felt lucky to be on it.

The training took place in Warrington with the RRC's Marc Naura. Delegates attended from Natural Resources Wales, Forestry England, Clyde River Foundation, South West Lakes Trust, several UK consultancy companies, University of Bucharest, as well as the National Institute of Research and Development in Environmental Protection, Romania.

Sometimes you attend a course and find yourself in a class full of friendly and enthusiastic individuals, who gel together and give you the impression that you are part of something great. This was one of those occasions. On top of the incredible teaching we received, it was a pleasure to spend time with such a lovely group of river-loving people.

The course included five site visits to rivers in Preston, Garstang and Warrington. There was plenty of tuition on the theory and practical aspects of RHS; which involved a lot of wader-wearing and work in pairs to assess the processes, features and modifications of four very different rivers. Then, for most of us, there was an evening spent swotting from our manuals, before the final day came when we were asked to complete our first solo (examined) survey, followed by a written test.

As Marc said, completing the course and gaining certification means we have ascended the first few rungs on the RHS learning ladder. We are on our way to becoming master surveyors, but it will take practise, and evaluation of our practise, to become true experts. Support for this ongoing learning is also in place. All past students can access RHS social media groups, where we can post photos and questions that come up for us during our surveys. Via these online group discussions, we have opportunities to seek advice from more experienced surveyors, and become better at recognising and understanding river habitats.

The amount I learnt in a few days was phenomenal. And, far from having had enough, on my return home I was desperate to get to my local river and have a go at surveying it! I would highly recommend the RHS course to anyone keen on rivers or the wildlife dependant on them.

If you are interested in finding out more about future RHS courses, or any of the other workshops and training run by the RRC, please visit our website. Alternatively, please reach out to us by email on rrc@therrc.co.uk.

I have written a glowing review of the course, but you might say I am a little biased since I work for the RRC... So here are a few reviews from others who attended the March 2023 RHS course:

“The RRC’s River Habitat Survey course was excellent. Well run and organised, with an initial theory session to familiarise yourself with definitions, then plenty of field practice undertaking RHS in a wide variety of river types. Really helped me to look at rivers in a different way and to be confident in identifying important habitat features and modifications.” Peter Jones, Natural Resources Wales.

“The RHS course was brilliant, I learnt more than I ever thought about rivers, river habitats and geomorphology. Marc is hugely knowledgeable and helpful as well as super friendly, he made the course entertaining and was easy to learn from. Lovely locations and a good variety of rivers to look at!” Morwenna Moore, South West Lakes Trust.

“Amazing, knowledgeable staff. Individual approach to all participants. No cutting corners. Supportive after the course with all our queries. Most intense course I’ve had in years!” Ewa Tomalak, NLG Ecology.

“My participation in the River Habitat Survey Certification Course has been a tremendous opportunity for me to expand and deepen my knowledge of rivers. The course has managed to combine the teaching of theoretical notions of hydromorphology with a practical, hands-on approach to field applications aimed at recognizing fluvial elements and the links between them. Thus, I feel that this course managed to speak to myself, and to everyone else, in a way which successfully took into account the essential fact that people have various mechanisms of understanding and styles of learning. I especially appreciate the trainer's, Marc Naura, outstanding patience and his ability to watch over us while we were learning to apply RHS in various riverine environments in NW England, allowing us to learn from our experience while stepping in at the right time to provide us with the necessary observations and advice. In this course, the participants are "challenged" to work in teams and support each other's development of "thinking the rivers", in a collective effort to learn to be guided by one's own sense of perceiving river processes and forms. Although the attendees came from different professional backgrounds (I, for example, am a hydrological researcher in Romania) and countries (each with its own hydrological specificities), Marc managed to meet our needs and used his intuition to help us nurture and improve our knowledge about rivers' habitat.” Gabriela Morosanu, University of Bucharest.


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