The River Habitat Survey (RHS) is an established standard methodology for characterising and assessing the physical character of freshwater streams and small rivers. The methodology is used across the UK and has a database >25,000 sites, with 2,500 in Wales collected since 1994. RHS data is used to calculate a series of quality scores relating to the hydromorphological condition of rivers that can support WFD assessment including: habitat modification score, habitat quality scores, riparian quality indexes and river habitat quality index. The data is widely used in the environmental sector to support planning, management and river restoration and it was applied towards assessing the state of the environment in Wales, the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and prioritising for river restoration.
The River Restoration Centre (RRC) has adapted the RHS for citizen science (cRHS) so that it can be applied by members of the public after attending a short training course.
The data will be used to introduce citizen scientists to hydromorphology, the science describing the way rivers shape and maintain habitats for species. The aim of cRHS is to have citizen scientists collect, input and interpret habitat data with the help of more experienced surveyors so as to produce assessments of habitat quality and river restoration plans and projects.
The following scores were calculated using a statistically-driven machine-learning approach, a type of AI that learns to perform a task by analysing patterns in data. This is an experimental approach to citizen-science impact assessment, and the exact reasoning behind the scores is not explainable. The scores represent a best guess of the impact the project is having in each domain. Scores are recalculated and updated when “View impact report” is clicked.