Habitat Improvement

Improving habitat is one of the key things that we do. It may involve us leading projects, working in partnership with others, training and supporting others to carry out projects or providing advice and project proposals for others to deliver.
Check out our projects pages for examples of projects that we have delivered. 

We use a range of tried and tested techniques to improve habitat, and many of these are described in the various WTT publications and videos below.  

Does habitat improvement work?  Check out the science and evidence in the section below.

The three legged stool’ of river health is habitat, water quality and water quantity. If any one of these legs is missing or unstable, then the river will not be in good ecological condition. Improving river habitat can make a river more resilient to pollution, floods and droughts but is not going to fix’ very poor water quality or a river that dries up due to over abstraction.

Measuring the effectiveness of habitat improvement projects is not straightforward and not cheap. Monitoring needs to be carried out over a period of years to give any really robust data. The budget for long term monitoring is generally not available, but there is research that tells us about the effectiveness of habitat restoration. 

The following paper was produced by the WTT’s Paul Gaskell and reviews the efficacy of restoration measures in relation to wild brown trout habitat:

Is habitat restoration effective?

Further reading

Does River Restoration Work’  Katie Whitlock, Salmo Trutta 2022

Looking after the youngsters’ — Juvenile trout habitat. Tim Jacklin, Salmo Trutta, 2011.

Does habitat enhancement work?’ John Spedan Lewis Foundation, Salmo Trutta, 2012.

Protecting & restoring your river’. Tim Jacklin, Salmo Trutta, 2012.

Effects of embankment removal . Hannah Clilverd et al, 2012; study of a WTT project.

Assessing the hydrogeomorphological effects of large woody debris in rivers: A study of both natural and restored wood in the River Blackwater, UK. (poster). Rebecca Ing, 2012; study of large woody debris and management recommendations

The Wild Trout Survival Guide

Paperback book, £10.00. 4th edition 2017

WTT’s must-read book about wild trout conservation and management, It takes a step-by-step approach through aspects of natural river function, man’s influences, good and bad habitat features, then design and implementation of habitat improvement techniques. It’s a terrific, practical read for anyone interested in improving habitat for their trout.

Available to purchase in our shop or by calling the WTT office on 023 9257 0985.

Habitat Management Sheets

These are two page guides to managing habitat and they cover six topics. They are intended for fishing club working parties, landowners and conservation volunteer groups. Individual sheets can be downloaded and printed by clicking the links below.

Controlling Invasive Plants 
Managing Bank Erosion
Managing Woody Debris
Gravel Cleaning
Managing Instream Vegetation
Managing Trees

Rivers: Working for Wild Trout

DVD £10

A 70 minute film feature that follows WTT Vice President and journalist Jon Beer as he visits three very different rivers in England in the company of Wild Trout Trust Conservation Officers Andy Thomas, Tim Jacklin and Paul Gaskell.
The film graphically illustrates the challenges of managing river habitat for wild trout, with examples of good and poor habitat and practical demonstrations of habitat improvement. Additional sections of film cover key topics in greater depth, as appendices and expert forums. The rivers featured are the River Meon in Hampshire, Rivers Dove and Manifold in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and the River Don as it flows through the centre of Sheffield.

'How to' videos

The Wild Trout Trust has teamed up with professional film-makers, Fish On, to create a series of short how to’ videos. The aim is use video to capture the key information that the WTT Conservation Officers pass on to groups during Practical Visits.

These videos are all on our You Tube channel or on this page of our website. They cover the topics listed below. 

  • Gravel Management
  • Secure Tree Kicker Installation
  • Tree Management
  • Log pinning
  • River Wandle Case Study
  • Improved Stock Management
  • Permissions
  • Safe Working
  • Risk Assessment.

Habitat Manuals

These are more detailed descriptions of habitat improvement techniques covering chalk streams, upland rivers and urban rivers. They are available to purchase as a CD of high resolution PDFs in our shop or can be downloaded as individual chapters as lower resolution PDF files.

Does habitat restoration work?