Monitoring Guidance

Guidance > Monitoring Guidance

Practical River Restoration Appraisal Guidance for Monitoring Options

This guidance document aims to assist all practitioners in the process of setting monitoring objectives as part of a river restoration project. Starting with advice on setting the overall project objectives, this document takes you through what is appropriate for a range of projects; large and small, simple and complex using information on over 30 techniques. 

Because there is a wide range of organisations, with a range of knowledge and abilities, this guidance seeks to include monitoring strategies suitable for different groups. Steps outlined are intended to support technical staff working for competent authorities, consultancies and academic institutions as well as organisations with limited funds, which may need to demonstrate success to Trustees and funders. As a ‘living’ document, the techniques and methods will be updated over time.

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To help you set up, structure and organise your monitoring strategy, the RRC has developed a Monitoring Planner.

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“This is a culmination of many years of hard work by the RRC in pulling together monitoring practices from a wide range of groups. The guidance document will be a significant contribution to promoting best practice in river restoration”

Dr. Judy England, Environmental Monitoring Team Leader, Environment Agency.


“PRAGMO will for the first time give us a means of comparing the results and the value for money of different river and wetland restoration projects. That information is priceless in the current economic climate“ 

Robert Oates, Executive Director, Thames Rivers Restoration Trust.


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Section 1 - Purpose

1.1 How this document can help you
1.2 Who will benefit from the guidance?
1.3 How to use this document
1.4 A living document


Section 2 - Document Summary and User Guide

2.1 Why use this guidance?
2.2 Putting your river restoration project into context
2.3 What is your project aiming to achieve?
2.4 Understanding the links between physical and biological processes
2.5 Determine your 'Specific and Measurable' objectives
2.6 Appropriate level of monitoring for your project
2.7 Which monitoring techniques to use
2.8 How to use this guidance: a step by step outline from objectives to delivery


Section 3 - The context: evidence, your river and policy

3.1 What does the literature tell us?
3.2 Understanding your section of river


Section 4 - Project objective setting

4.1 Setting SMART project objectives


Section 5 - Physical and biological process links and limitations

5.1 The importance of understanding your catchment’s hydrology, water quality and sediment
5.2 Inter-relations between biodiversity and physical habitat
5.3 Interacting components – understanding the connections


Section 6 - Determining monitoring objectives - project risk and scale

6.1 Determining project risk
6.2 Identifying project scale
6.3 Defining you project location in the matrix
6.4 Setting SMART monitoring objectives


Section 7 - Selection of appropriate techniques and methodologies

7.1 What will your monitoring tell you?
7.2 What level of technique should I use
7.3 Multi-disciplinary methods (see Appendix 8)
7.4 Ecology survey methods (see Appendix 9)
7.5 Fisheries survey methods (see Appendix 10)
7.6 Macrophyte survey methods (see Appendix 11)
7.7 Geomorphology survey methods (see Appendix 12)
7.8 Hydrology survey methods (see Appendix 13)


Section 8 - Monitoring timescales

8.1 Adding time to monitoring objectives
8.2 Monitoring – for how long?
8.3 Monitoring – which season to collect data?
8.4 Key timescale considerations


Section 9 - Estimating monitoring costs

9.1 Breaking down the cost elements


Section 10 - Above and beyond existing data

10.1 Existing data resources and monitoring schemes
10.2 Who should be involved in monitoring and why


Section 11 - Case studies

11.1 Mayes Brook
11.2 River Cole
11.3 River Quaggy
11.4 Seven Hatches
11.5 Kissimmee River Restoration Project, Florida
11.6 Shopham Loop


Section 12 - Bibliography & References

12.1 Formal literature
12.2 Indirect or ‘grey’ literature


Appendix 1 - Water Framework Directive

A1.1 WFD Monitoring
A1.2 Determining which pressure is causing biological failure


Appendix 2 - Adaptive Management

A2 Adaptive Management


Appendix 3 - Literature Review

A3.1 Evidence and knowledge base
A3.2 The big picture
A3.3 Objective setting and monitoring design
A3.4 A question of scale
A3.5 How to proceed?
A3.6 River Restoration Design and Appraisal Process
A3.7 Indirect Literature


Appendix 4 - SMART objectives

A4.1 Examples of SMART objectives


Appendix 5 - Hydrology

A5.1 Definition of Common Hydrological Terms
A5.2 Available Hydrological data and its uses


Appendix 6 - Water Quality

A6 Water Quality


Appendix 7 - Sedimentation

A7 Sedimentation


Appendix 8 - Multidisciplinary Monitoring

A8.1 Fixed point Photography
A8.2 RRC Rapid Assessment
A8.3 Habitat Mapping (Biotope)
A8.4 Habitat Mapping (RCS)


Appendix 9 - Ecology Monitoring

A9.1 Community Involvement (simple invertebrate assessment)
A9.2 Unit Area Invertebrate Sampling – Surber or Cylinder Samplers
A9.3 Unit-Time Invertebrate Survey
A9.4 River Habitat Survey (RHS)
A9.5 Urban Habitat Survey


Appendix 10 - Fisheries Surveys

A10.1 Electrofishing
A10.2 Netting
A10.3 Trapping
A10.4 Hydroacoustics
A10.5 Fish Counters
A10.6 Tagging


Appendix 11 - Macrophyte Surveys

A11.1 Environment Agency Macrophyte Survey Methodology (LEAFPACS)
A11.2 JNCC Standard method for river macrophyte survey and for determining River Community Type (Edited extract from SERCON 2 User’s Guide)
A11.3 Quadrat/NVC methodology


Appendix 12 - Hydromorphology – Geomorphological Surveys

A12.1 Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery
A12.2 Geo-River Habitat Survey (GeoRHS)
A12.3 Topographic Survey
A12.4 Repeat Cross Sections
A12.5 Geomorphological Mapping
A12.6 Fluvial Audit
A12.7 LiDAR


Appendix 13 - Hydromorphology – Hydrological Surveys

A13.1 Trash Lines
A13.2 Water Level
A13.3 Spot Gauging
A13.4 Velocity
A13.5 Rainfall-runoff Modelling (to determine mean daily flows)


Appendix 14 - Data Sources

A14 Data Sources