7. A 20-Year View of Monitoring Ecological Quality in English and Welsh Rivers

  1. Philip J. Boon2 and
  2. Paul J. Raven3
  1. Ian P. Vaughan and
  2. Stephen J. Ormerod

Published Online: 17 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119961819.ch7

River Conservation and Management

River Conservation and Management

How to Cite

Vaughan, I. P. and Ormerod, S. J. (2012) A 20-Year View of Monitoring Ecological Quality in English and Welsh Rivers, in River Conservation and Management (eds P. J. Boon and P. J. Raven), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119961819.ch7

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh, UK

  2. 3

    Environment Agency, Bristol, UK

Author Information

  1. Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 23 MAR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470682081

Online ISBN: 9781119961819



  • Water quality;
  • river habitat;
  • benthic macroinvertebrates;
  • environmental stressors;
  • River Wye


Rivers are one of the most intensively monitored environments, primarily due to the importance of the resources they supply. In England and Wales, river monitoring covers biology, chemistry, hydrology and hydromorphology, but the context and uses for monitoring data are both still evolving. Over the past 20 years, river monitoring has revealed substantial improvements in water and biological quality, as well as establishing the first detailed picture of physical habitat. In addition to their primary role, biological, chemical and physical data can also support wider research on river management and conservation, but these opportunities have not been fully exploited. Despite the limitations of using data collected for different purposes, we argue that monitoring databases developed since 1990 could underpin future developments in riverine science. This assertion is illustrated by two simple examples that analyse the spatial distribution of human pressures in a catchment and quantify a possible interaction between water quality and river channel modification. Maintaining an effective, high quality monitoring network will depend on all those using the information — including the research community — making a compelling case that continued, extensive gathering of scientific data and their application for river management purposes justifies the investment.