Collecting data on biodiversity and the pressures impacting wild fish.

Click on the pinpointed locations to find out the name of the hub and the river they sample
Water Pattern - Wildfish

SmartRivers is essential to wild fish conservation.

Human activities put rivers under constant pressure from a variety of pollutants – almost everything we do on land has a consequence for our waterways. This pollution stops rivers supporting healthy populations of freshwater species.

Despite this, government monitoring continues to decline, in both frequency and coverage.

SmartRivers is a scientifically robust, nationwide citizen science scheme that is helping to fill the monitoring gap. The data produced provides invaluable evidence to protect wild fish.

“My work for SmartRivers is incredibly rewarding. I see the huge enthusiasm for the training from people who really care about the health of rivers.”
Roger Owen
SmartRivers trainer and former Head of Ecology at SEPA
SmartRivers - Wildfish
SmartRivers - Wildfish
SmartRivers - Wildfish

How can SmartRivers help to protect wild fish?

Pinpoint water quality pressures

Detection of failing river health is difficult. Unlike land where pollution is often localised, rivers are constantly moving. Most chronic impacts are also not obvious by eye.

SmartRivers data shows the impact of organic pollution, nutrient enrichment, sediment loading, chemical presence and flow stress based on the invertebrate species that are present and absent.

Support understanding of climate change

Shifts in temperature can lead to changes in the diversity of animals present in a river, altering its food web structure.

SmartRivers monitoring over time can help detect these shifts.

Sampling detects invasive species

Over 2,000 plants and animals have been introduced to Britain from all over the world. 10-15% of these spread and become invasive non-native species.

SmartRivers monitoring can help detect new invasive species and support our understanding of the spread of existing invasive species.

Provides a robust benchmark

Our rivers are damaged day in and day out by pollution and over-abstraction. Yet national monitoring regimes continue to decline.

SmartRivers works to fill this gap, systematically collecting evidence of the problems.

Key Stats

Keeping waters wild for sustainable wild fish populations, improved biodiversity and less pollution.


the number of SmartRiver hubs across the UK.



of the plant and animal species introduced to Britain become invasive non-native species.


the number of river sites sampled in 2021.

Interested in becoming a SmartRivers hub?

Here is how it works

1. Establish a hub and recruit volunteers

You will need an organisation to host the hub.
We need around 10 volunteers to launch a hub and a hub lead/coordinator (this is commonly a local conservation group). Hubs are river based.

2. Site selection

For your river you will need to choose 5 sample sites. It is helpful to think about what are you keen to investigate? For example sites above and below restoration projects or potential polluting discharges.

3. Get a professional benchmark

A professional scientist will come and complete an initial benchmark on your chosen sample sites, in spring and autumn. This provides a scientific ‘baseline’ for your river.

4. Do your training

Training is two full days and is usually run in conjunction with benchmarking. The course is certified by the Institute of Fisheries Management.

5. You’re ready to start sampling!

SmartRivers monitoring takes place twice a year (spring and autumn) and there are two pathways to choose from:

Sample and identify

Volunteers do all the sampling and analysis themselves. For hubs completing their own ID, we pick a sample at random each season for a quality control check – to provide volunteers with valuable feedback.

Sample and send

Volunteers collect the sample and post it to a professional lab for identification for a modest cost

The benefits of a SmartRivers hub?


An indication of what improvement efforts are needed/where to focus them, or if works you have undertaken are making a difference.


Multi-year reporting from your monitoring and support with using your data to make change. We will work with you to discuss the data and its implications with relevant stakeholders.


Evidence to help inform the national picture and drive action. We use your data as part of our wider work to fight for better protection for our rivers.

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