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The Rivers and Streams of England and Wales: An Overview of their Physical Character in 2007-2008 and Changes Since 1995-1996

Seager, Katharine, Baker, Lucy, Parsons, Helena, Raven, Paul J. and Vaughan, Ian Phillip ORCID: 2012. The Rivers and Streams of England and Wales: An Overview of their Physical Character in 2007-2008 and Changes Since 1995-1996. Boon, P. J. and Raven, P. J., eds. River Conservation and Management, Chichester: Wiley, pp. 29-43. (10.1002/9781119961819.ch3)

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A stratified random sample of 4 849 River Habitat Survey (RHS) sites was used to assess the physical character of rivers and streams in England and Wales in 2007-2008. Based on this sample, it is estimated that 11% of river length had a ‘near-natural’ channel form, while more than 40% was severely modified owing to one or more artificial factors. An estimated 43% of river length was affected by channel or bank re-sectioning and 8% had channel or bank reinforcement. More than 56% of sample sites on small (≤ 2.0m water width), lowland (≤ 200m altitude) watercourses – which included artificial drainage channels – were severely modified. The distribution of riverside trees and invasive non-native plants, and the occurrence of large woody debris, silting and gravel bars is also described. Changes since the first baseline survey in 1995-1996 are reported. There was little overall change in the pattern of channel modification, riverside tree distribution and other features in England and Wales between 1995 -1996 and 2007-2008. This is probably because channel straightening, widening and deepening associated with major post-war land drainage schemes had largely been completed by the early 1980s, while local river restoration work was undetectable with sampling density used. One notable change was an increase in the non-native plant Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). RHS data, including the baseline surveys, have been used for a wide range of research and river management purposes. Examples include investigating relationships between biological communities and river habitats, assessing hydromorphological pressures in river catchments, and identifying those water bodies qualifying for ‘reference condition’ and ‘heavily modified’ status under the European Water Framework Directive. RHS survey information was used to develop and test a European guidance standard on assessing the hydromorphological modification of rivers.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Uncontrolled Keywords: River Habitat Survey; habitat quality; channel modification; riverside trees; invasive non-native plants; Water Framework Directive
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 9780470682081
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:34

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