*Job Vacancies* RRC Science & Technical Officers x2 (Ecology & Geomorphology)

The River Restoration Centre

Starting from £35,559 pa. Paid • Full Time • Permanent.  www.therrc.co.uk. Sectors: ecologyconservation & wildlifewater & hydrology

Closing date: 24 November 2022

The River Restoration Centre (RRC) is looking for two individuals with expertise in ecology and geomorphology to coordinate and deliver applied research and practical projects and provide technical specialist advice to practitioners. We are seeking driven candidates who will be key to the delivery of RRC’s core activities. 

These are exciting opportunities to be part of the UK’s independent expert advisory organisation for river restoration. As a key part of a small specialist team, you will be involved in everything we do including research, river restoration scoping, projects and assessment at project, catchment, and national scales. You will be at the heart of the UK river restoration community, spreading RRC’s knowledge and expertise across all four countries and further abroad.

You will utilise and expand your knowledge and skills to work with, support and advise UK statutory agencies and conservation bodies, and their delivery partners: rivers, wildlife and fisheries trusts and specialist consultants and contractors.

You will be an essential part of developing and delivering training, guidance, tools and national/international events to further the understanding and sharing of best practice river restoration, working with natural processes and nature-based solutions to river and catchment pressures and impacts. This experience will inform your understanding of best practice, research and new developments, enable to you develop new tools and methods, to produce guidance and training courses to apply this work, and to support others to build capacity and capability in their organisations.

You will have a relevant postgraduate qualification or equivalent experience in ecology or geomorphology, physical geography or a relevant subject. From this, you will have a detailed understanding of how geomorphological processes and man-made pressures affect the river-floodplain system and habitat conditions, and how such knowledge can be applied in river catchment management and restoration contexts. 

We require the successful candidate to be effective at communicating and presenting technical river restoration concepts to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

For an informal chat, please contact Marc Naura, RRC Science and Technical Manager, on +44 (0)1234 752979 or (E); rrc@therrc.co.uk.

The River Restoration Centre (RRC) is based at Cranfield. Your employment contract will be with Cranfield University under a long-standing service agreement, whilst your work is managed by The River Restoration Centre Ltd. The position will involve travel to locations across the UK, Ireland, and occasionally abroad.

Apply here online now.

Closing date for receipt of applications is Thursday 24th November 2022 (midnight).

Interviews will be held in early December

NEW – RHS Toolbox 1.5 with RHAT WFD assessment and import from RAPID database

The RHS Toolbox 1.5 features new functionality to perform a RHAT assessment and to import data from the RAPID database.

The software is on a free trial for 30 days and it is available for 32 and 64 bit version of Office.

New features:

River Hydromorphology Assessment Technique (RHAT) scoring form

The River Hydromorphology Assessment Technique (RHAT) was developed in Northern Ireland by the Department of Environment to assess the hydromorphological condition of rivers for the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The field survey methodology was based on RHS and contains the same amount of information as a standard survey. The main differences are the width of spot-checks, which in RHAT are 50 m wide. The RHAT survey methodology also allows for partial surveys of the stream as the final scoring system does not rely on recorded data for its implementation.

The field assessment of morphological condition as part of RHAT is carried out in the field using expert opinion. Eight attributes representing bank and channel features and geomorphological functions are assessed on the scale of 0 (bad) to 4 (high) for their condition. Guidance on assessing condition is provided in the RHAT manual.

As the RHAT condition assessment is not calculated directly from survey data, it is possible to derive the score for a standard RHS. The RHAT condition assessment sheet was therefore added to the RHS toolbox as an additional option whilst doing surveys

RHAT assessment form in the RHS Toolbox

RAPID data import

RAPID is an application developed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom to input and process RHS data.

You can now import data from the RAPID database version 2 and 3 using the import button.

RAPID import menu in the RHS Toolbox

For more information about the software, you can go to the software page or read the manual online.

Instructions to download and install the RHS Toolbox:
1- Download the zip file for the relevant version of the RHS Toolbox: 

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2- Create a RHS folder somewhere on your computer (e.g. C drive) and extract the content of the zip file into that folder.
3- If you do not have Access 2010 or later already installed on your PC, you can download and install the free Access 2016 runtime here
4- Double-click the file RHSDataInput.accdr.

The RHS Toolbox development requires investment in time and resources so it is unfortunately not possible to deliver it free of charge. You have access to a trial version for 30 days after which you will have to register and purchase a license. During the trial period, every time you log in, you will be asked whether you wish to purchase a license and register. Information on pricing can be found here

Potential issues: the RHS Toolbox was tested on UK (English) Windows Operating Systems. Due to different ways of representing decimal points, some of its functionality may not work on French and other Operating Systems that use commas (,) instead of points (.) to represent the decimal fraction of real numbers. Please let us know if you come across such problems.

Online (and virtual) training on hydromorphology

Last week was a bit of a first for us and myself. We (the River Restoration Centre) held our first full day online hydromorphological training course with a virtual field work component!
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we have been unable to offer our usual series of training courses in person. The challenge here was to develop a course that provide the same kind of experience as the one we normally run that includes a very important field component where participants can directly experience hydromorphological processes and forms as well as pressures and impacts of modifications.


So we have been busy designing new ways of offering the same experience online by adding virtual site visits and even fieldwork. We delivered the Introduction to Hydromorphology (Level 1) training course using a combination of Zoom and Google Earth software. Fifteen delegates joined us on the Zoom call with regular switches to Google Earth and Streetview to demonstrate and experience hydromorphological processes forms and drivers virtually using one of our case study catchment on which we collected a lot of 360 photographs. Polls were set up to ask the delegates questions, and create as much of an interactive session as possible to keep everybody’s attention alive.

The crux of the course was to introduce delegates to a framework for analysing catchment and river processes, forms and how they are influenced by modifications and land management. This was achieved through formal short presentation followed by group work, in pairs, in the air and on virtual ground using Google Earth online, 360⁰ photos, and historic maps.

Delegates worked in pairs through tasks to spot features and modifications, think about processes, and map pressures. Finally, delegates were asked to assess everything we had gone over in the training and offer justified restoration options. This was a great opportunity to go over all the concepts we had been introduced to, and brainstorm ideas.

Feedback from the course has been really encouraging, and we are now looking at adapting the rest of our courses online and run more this Summer and Autumn. We are also considering adapting the River Habitat Survey course, potentially turning the existing presentations that are delivered in a training room into a series of online modules with virtual field work, and organising site visits separately over a few days to practice doing the survey whilst maintaining social distancing rules. We will be in touch with more information soon and we would welcome your suggestions.

In the meantime, please visit the RRC website to view our training events and please email us rrc@therrc.co.uk if you are interested in attending a virtual training course.

Using River Habitat Survey in the Geography Curriculum at the University of Worcester

by Professor Ian Maddock, University of Worcester, January 2020

Third year undergraduate students at the University of Worcester can take an optional module in River Conservation and Management as part of their Geography or Physical Geography degrees. We offer a practical-based degree programme with a strong emphasis on fieldwork and in this module, the practical work is focused around the use of RHS. The first half of the module is largely classroom-based, focusing on new approaches to environmentally-sensitive river management, including river restoration, natural flood management and the application of environmental flows.  Guest speakers from the EA, wildlife trusts, rivers trusts, local authorities and environmental consultancies provide an overview of some of the organisations involved with these topics and give students insights into potential careers relevant to their interests.

copyright Ian Maddock

RHS provides the focus for the 2nd half of the module. Students are familiarised with the field survey methods and features that are assessed in the classroom and then get to trial the software in a PC room with dummy data sets. This allows them to get used to data input and score calculation and explore the impact of altering input fields and assessing the effect on the metrics calculated. They get a feel for what influences the Habitat Quality Assessment (HQA) and the Habitat Modification Score (HMS) and their sensitivity to data input.

This is followed by three weeks of fieldwork using RHS. The first one involves a ‘practice’ survey of a local stream and then straight back into the computer room for data input and metric calculations. Students work in small groups (2s and 3s) and all assess the same reach. Comparing scores between groups and identifying which features were scored differently between them enables a discussion on observer variability and the need for training to help standardise approaches and optimise data quality. In the following two weeks students assess two contrasting sites. One is a largely natural gravel-bed stream in a local nature reserve, with minimal direct human impact and high habitat quality. The second is a contrasting, heavily-modified urban stream dominated by channelisation including weirs, bank and bed reinforcements and channel realignment. For their assignment, students are required to produce a mock consultancy report and use the RHS outputs to 1) assess the current habitat quality and habitat modification, and 2) make recommendations for the implementation of suitable river restoration techniques. The important thing with the latter is they use the breakdown of the HQA and HMS metrics to underpin their recommendations, explicitly acknowledging the output of the RHS survey results to justify the techniques proposed.

RHS provides an ideal field technique for this type of work for many reasons. Students can become proficient in its use relatively quickly, survey times are sufficiently short to enable them to conduct a survey in a 3-4 hour timetable slot, it promotes a discussion about how to identify river habitat features, what features are deemed ecologically relevant and how the differing importance of features is acknowledged by the differential weighting of them towards the calculated metrics, and how habitats have been impacted in the past or can be restored. It also enables a more general discussion on the use of rapid visual assessment methods as a survey protocol compared to more detailed but time consuming quantitative techniques. We plan to trial the new mobile app this forthcoming year which should provide a more convenient way of recording data in the field and uploading it to the PC-based software.

Professor Ian Maddock

Professor of River Science

University of Worcester

River Habitat Survey App

RRC in collaboration with the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, have been working to create a new, free application to record River Habitat Survey (RHS) sites in the field, using your smartphone. It works on Android phones and tablets, and the simple interface makes it easy to input data similar to how you would have originally completed the paper form. Just work your way through the sections on the App, filling in information at each Spot Check, recording the number of riffles, pools and bars, before carrying out the Sweep Up assessment of the overall reach. The user can also take photographs to be added to the survey, and the data can be exported to the RHS Toolbox and RAPID2 software.

Download the RHS Mobile Android App (3.3 MB) : 

RHS App interface

RHS Natural Resources Wales analysis

Image result for nrw logoImage result for bournemouth universityImage result for river restoration centre

Natural Resources Wales, working with the River Restoration Centre and Bournemouth University, have recently published analysis of River Habitat Survey data from the repeat baseline survey in 2007-9 for six areas across Wales, allowing comparisons to be drawn in terms of levels of modifications and habitat quality. The analyses and indices from this report will be invaluable for Area Based Statements as well as providing evidence for our management and prioritisation of rivers. River restoration is a key priority for NRW and this report suggests a way forward for the assessment of restoration projects as well as modificaitions such as hydropower proposals.

Sue Hearn, Rivers Ecologist, Natural Resources Wales

View the report here

River Restoration Centre 19th Annual Network Conference 2018

Each year the River Restoration Centre (RRC) holds an Annual Network Conference that brings together professionals from all areas of river restoration including contractors, engineers, consultants, academics, and representatives from trusts, local organisations, and goverment agencies. The event is run over two days and includes around 50 speakers, workshop sessions and many other opportunities to network and make new contacts. Speakers present interesting, engaging presentations on their research or recent projects on current, hot topics.

For more information click here.

Books on rivers and river management

Rivers by Nigel Holmes and Paul Raven
Rivers_book_coverAn attractive new book by Nigel Holmes and Paul Raven should be a ‘must-read’ item for those with a professional, academic or general interest in rivers. Entitled simply ‘Rivers’ it is number 3 in the British Wildlife Collection series, and has 432 pages packed with more than 300 colour photographs, plus charts, graphs and other images. The sub-tilted theme is ‘a natural and not-so-natural history’ and the book describes how British rivers and associated plants, invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals have been changed by Nature and mankind since the last ice age.

It describes how and why these changes have occurred and explains how subtle variations in climate, geology and human history in different parts of Britain, have made each river unique. Three rivers, the Hampshire Meon, Welsh/Cheshire Dee and Endrick in Scotland are used to demonstrate how in more detail. The overall message is that understanding how rivers behave is crucial if they are to be properly managed and conserved for the benefit of people and wildlife into the future.
Copies can be ordered from British Wildlife Publishing (£30, free P&P within the UK) – details can be found here – and orders for signed copies taken by phoning 01865 811316.

Decision Support Systems: factors affecting their design and implementation within organisations. Lessons from two case studies by Marc Naura

DSS_book_Cover

How do we ensure that scientific tools, techniques and outputs (e.g. models, software, analytical techniques) are used in the ‘applied’ world’ of industry and government? In this research, we take the example of a group of software called Decision Support Systems (DSS) to discuss, with the help of literature reviews and 2 case studies, the factors affecting their implementation success within organisations. We particularly concentrate on the study of their interaction with organisational culture and the ‘frictions’ that assumptions taken in their design may generate with existing work practice and organisational beliefs. We further propose a methodology for developing models and tools that accounts for organisational and cultural factors, and demonstrate its application on a case study in a major public environmental organisation in the United Kingdom.

The book takes, as an example, the development of ToolHab, a Decision Support System for managing river habitats within the Environment Agency, England and Wales. ToolHab was originally designed for prioritising sites for habitat enhancement work for fish and it is now being tested for other purposes, such as the delivery of a environmental targets under the EU Water Framework Directive. The case studies illustrate the practical and cultural hurdles researchers, software designers and scientists face when attempting to develop methods, techniques and tools for practitioners and what can be done about it. The literature reviewed shows that these issues are by no means restricted to the environmental sector alone but are widespread across public and private industries whether in medicine, marketing or sales. Thus, the approach suggested will be relevant to many scientist, engineers and software developers involved in the production of tools and techniques across a wide spectrum of organisations (link to website).