Citizen Science Hub

Citizen Science Hub

Citizen scientists are contributing to our knowledge of Chilterns chalk streams and monitoring the changes that are taking place.

Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research – from community-driven surveys to global investigations.  It relies on an army of volunteers of all ages and abilities. So, whether you have skills and knowledge you’d like to share, or you’ve never collected data before and want to learn more, why not give it a go?

You don’t need any particular experience or qualifications to become a citizen scientist, just an interest in your local river. Full training is given and you will be supported by staff or members of local groups. Please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Riverfly Monitoring

Riverfly monitoring is carried out on a monthly basis. This citizen science survey uses the invertebrate life of the rivers as a measure of river health. More details available from the Chilterns, Hertfordshire and Middlesex Riverfly Hub. Past survey results are also available.

Water Vole Surveys

Water voleFull water vole surveys of the River Chess have been conducted at 2-yearly intervals since 2001. Between 2001 and 2003, a dramatic 97% decline in water voles was seen, this was attributed to mink dispersing along the watercourse and a mink control and habitat enhancement scheme was initiated. Following management there was a steady increase in numbers, until by 2011 the vole population recovered to its 2001 level. Find out what has happened since then in the latest survey report. Previous reports are available on request.

Find out more about the River Chess Water Vole Recovery Scheme

River Chess Water Vole Survey 2021


The ChessWatch project began in 2019 and is being led by Prof. Kate Heppell of Queen Mary University of London. Four water quality sondes placed at different points along the River Chess have been continuously monitoring water quality since 2019. Two further sondes will be added in 2022. The project has also conducted research into local awareness, perception and concerns for the River Chess. Real-time water quality data can be seen on the water quality dashboard. Volunteers help to maintain and monitor the water quality probes.

Chesswatch visitor survey results

River Chess Smarter Water Catchment

MoRPh Surveyors, credit Paul JenningsModular River Survey

We are using Modular River Survey to track how our restorations of different river sections have changed the biodiversity and hydrogeomorphology (physical shape and structure) of the River Chess. Our volunteers are surveying before and after our interventions to record changes to vegetation and sediment within the channel and on the riverbanks. Do get in touch via if you would like to find out more.

MudspotterSesiment Source entering River CHess from Vale Brook

Fine sediment can be particularly problematic in chalk streams, causing infilling of gravels, poor oxygen exchange between surface water and upwelling groundwater, and preventing fish from spawning successfully. MudSpotter is a Citizen Science technique to help us identify the location of inputs of fine sediment to the river, so that we can plan targeted mitigation actions.  Do get in touch via if you would like to find out more.


Additional Roles

  • Flow monitoring –Monthly recording of river flows (co-ordinated by local river groups)
  • Data volunteer – This is an office based role with the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project. Help is needed with data input and processing to help us make use of valuable data that is yet to be processed.
Chilterns ANOB

Other Volunteering opportunities

There are plenty of other ways to get involved in caring for your local river. Get stuck in with some practical conservation work or help your local river action group with events and lobbying work.