Urban River Restoration: Gathering of Heroes 19/20

Wild Trout Trust and Mersey Rivers Trust host 4th Urban Conclave including EVENT VIDEOS below

Ian Stonefly Tescos
Ian Oates meets a giant stonefly nymph in the Trolley Bay

Supporting Real-World Urban River Restoration

The latest Conclave of Urban River Restoration Heroes took place over a VERY rainy weekend at the end of September 2019. Organised and hosted by the WTT and Mersey Rivers Trust on the River Tame, a packed progamme of talks, workshops and no-holds-barred idea swaps spanned Friday Evening to Sunday Afternoon. 

Regardless of the weather, from kick off to pulling stumps — a raft of incredibly valuable information and ideas were shared between all the participants that weekend. The VIDEO content below shares some of valuable insights presented by the keynote speakers who kindly gave their time to the event…

Activities also included an impromptu fish-autopsy-cum-scale-sampling tutorial followed by Crash-Course Entomology for Urbanistas that took place (literally) inside a supermarket trolley parking-bay to escape the downpour…

Scale Reading2
River out of its banks for Fish Sampling/Scale-reading Workshop? No Problem for the Urban Conclave Brigade.
Arron Watson Riverfly Partnership Trolley Entomology
Arron Watson Explains Extensions to Riverfly Partnership Monitoring for Dedicated Groups (in a trolley bay)

The weekend also saw the launch of the Print and E‑Book versions of the latest Urban River Toolkit” that Theo created as one of his first major projects as an official WTT Trout in the Town officer. Available via Amazon’s instant Print on Demand” service here: https://​www​.ama​zon​.co​.uk/​T​r​o​u​t​-​T​o​w​n​-​U​r​b​a​n​-​R​i​v​e​r​-​T​o​o​l​k​i​t​/​d​p​/​1​6​8​8​4​96130

Urban River Restoration Manual
The paperback/hard-copy book version of the toolkit is available via "print on demand" technology - minimising paper use, storage and global shipping miles.

As well as Theo’s rundown of the contents and intentions behind the Urban River Restoration Toolkit — you can also experience (or re-visit) all of the keynote presentations in the form of our Virtual Conference” created using the videos of each talk below…

Urban River Restoration Presentations: Now Available to All (Videos Below)

Simon Ogden: Putting the Sheaf Back Into Sheffield (Sheaf-field)

Simon Ogden is the Chair of Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust. The second video below is Simon’s fascinating and informative account of engaging both local government and local communities in urban river restoration…

Before his talk — Please check out the guided urban caving tours video (one of the innovative ways that the Sheaf & Porter Rivers Trust use — along with painting the streets where a buried river section crosses a road — to engage urban communities with their buried urban rivers). 

This video by DeeJayOne: The Sheffield Guide gives a first-person perspective of a uniquely-inventive style of community engagement in action!

Mike Duddy: Citizen Science Surveying Fish & Invertebrates to Complete 1970-2018 Records of Mersey Catchment

Mike Duddy (Mersey Rivers Trust) shares how discussions with the late, great Malcolm Greenhalgh resulted in the 2018 repetition of biological surveys completed in 1970 and 1994. His presentation proves the real, tangible value of harnessing citizen science within urban river restoration projects.

The surprising results show some inspiring changes AND highlight how important it is to extend and re-double efforts to restore the biological status of all rivers in the Mersey Catchment…

Mike Forty (Ribble Rivers Trust): Weirs on Urban Rivers like the River Douglas - Choosing Priority Barriers & How to Tackle Them

Mike Forty (Ribble Rivers Trust) shows us the inside of the Catchment Manager’s mind… His talk shows how such complicated choices can, with time and effort, be tamed” to the point we can make better than average decisions on restoring connectivity & habitat-quality in urban catchments.

Joe Pecorelli (ZSL): How and Why to go on an "Outfall Safari" and track down "Sewage Stinkers" on your Urban Rivers

Joe Pecorelli describes the great success of the Outfall Safari” programme that he runs as part of his role with the Zoological Society of London. This is, again, an example of Citizen Science delivering real, practical benefits to the river environment.

Theo Pike: Introducing and Explaining the Urban River Restoration Toolkit Print Edition & Digital Appendices

One of the cornerstones of this Conclave was the official launch of the Urban Rivers Toolkit that Theo has worked tirelessly to create, collate & finalise. It features our combined knowledge (and that of multiple collaborating partners) gleaned since the inception of both Trout in the Town (PG) and also the Wandle Trust (TP). 

Of particular note is the inclusion of the hugely practical guidance around governance and many of the stumbling-block” issues of logistical, legal and procedural matters. Theo’s vast experience at the coalface of both Wandle Trust and South-East Rivers Trust (at all stages from small beginnings to employing a full payroll of expert staff) is an incredible resource for anyone trying to find their way through the maze of setting up and running a group to fight for a patch of urban river. Often it is struggling with the day-to-day” practical difficulties that can cause urban river restoration projects to fail. The toolkit is designed to set up up for success by tackling all the most common barriers and problems.

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of what to expect from the Toolkit in Theo’s presentation video (below).

If you’d like to own your own copy of the Toolkit, it is available as part of Amazon’s Print on Demand” service. The Wild Trout Trust receives a royalty payment from Amazon of around £4.50 for each copy sold, so as well as getting all the essential guidance and advice, you are making a contribution to the work of the WTT when you buy your copy using the button below:

Urban River Restoration Conclave: Closing Thoughts on the 2019/2020 event

Our huge thanks to all of the wonderful, dedicated and enthusiastic urban river restoration delegates who attended from all over the country. The keynote speakers gave so generously of their weekend time (and office hours to prepare presentations in advance) — all of which I happen to know is in extremely short supply and deserves extra special thanks.

Cafe Entomology
Arron Watson (Riverfly Partnership) and a Supermarket Cafe Invertebrate ID training session!

I would, once again, reiterate that the time spent in animated conversation in the pub and over evening meals probably (as usual) created some of the most significant and creative projects to come out of the latest Conclave. In essence, the extending of those conversations turned what would be a normal 8‑hour working day into something closer to the 12 — 14-hour ballpark — while feeling much less like work” than a shared passion.

I’m currently looking forward to (imminently) collaborating with Arron Watson on some online video seminar content to show the wonders of understanding invertebrate characteristics as a tool to better understand the health of your river(s). 

These will run, in the first instance, inside the Trout in the Town Facebook Group — which you can join on the link below (if you’re on Facebook and would like to benefit from this and future Conclave events):


Thank you all once again — and me and Theo look forward to seeing you for the next one!