Join the Essex Wildlife Trust Survey Team

Essex Wildlife Trust runs a number of surveys and training courses throughout the year. We are looking for volunteers to become part of our survey team and help us with our Living Landscape surveys. If you would like to find out more about our surveys, or to book a training course please contact us. For survey forms and other important information please see our online Survey Toolkit.

Please note that by registering your contact information, you are agreeing to Essex Wildlife Trust contacting you in relation to the activities you have expressed an interest in.  You can get in touch with us at any time to be taken off our lists.

Riverfly Surveys

Riverfly Surveying. Photo: Essex Wildlife Trust











Riverflies, along with other freshwater invertebrates, are at the heart of the freshwater ecosystem and are a vital link in the aquatic food chain. Riverfly populations are affected by many factors, predominately water quality, habitat diversity, water level and flow rate.  Their common characteristics of limited mobility, relatively long life cycle, presence throughout the year and specific tolerances to changes in environmental conditions make them powerful biological indicators to monitor water quality, and are commonly referred to as 'the canary of our rivers'.

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Essex Wildlife Trust River Wardens

We are looking for Essex residents to join our award winning volunteer river wardens group - It's a great way to get out and about and learn more about wildlife, your river and how to protect it.

Essex supports a staggering variety of habitats and species linked by a common thread – water. It is the fundamental building block of life, but something which we often take for granted. In Essex, the shocking manifestation of this neglect was rivers so polluted with industrial and agricultural chemicals that only three decades ago, they could not support wildlife.

Thankfully times have changed. Partnership initiatives such as Water for Wildlife have led to consistent, targeted work to restore our rivers, and as a result otters and water voles have recolonised our river catchments. Since work began on the Essex Water Vole Recovery Project in 2007, voles have been reintroduced to the River Colne and habitat improvements and targeted mink removal has resulted in natural re-colonisation of water voles. The Riversearch otter and water vole survey has trained over 200 volunteer surveyors, and Essex Wildlife Trust have recently expanded this programme to incorporate other survey and monitoring tasks. Volunteers can choose to commit to as little or as much time as they want, what tasks they are happy to take on, and the area that they want to monitor. River Wardens can work in pairs or small groups.

You will be fully supported by Essex Wildlife Trust staff and the Catchment Partnership, which includes the Environment Agency. The project has been so successful that it has gained national attention as an example of good practice and the group were awarded the inaugural Lynne Farrell group award at the National Biodiversity Network Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing! The River Wardens were also finalists in the 2016 Living Waterways awards,

As a volunteer river warden, you will have a key role in monitoring a short stretch of your local river and reporting any potential problems that you come across.

River wardens can help by:

  • Recording sightings of wildlife when out and about along Essex rivers
  • Monitoring river features – information which adds to our knowledge and helps to make good decisions
  • Structured monitoring of Otters and Water Voles as part of the Riversearch Survey programme
  • Putting out and collecting water shrew survey tubes
  • Recording and alerting us to pollution incidents – it’s vital to respond quickly
  • Recording invasive species by adopting a Mink monitoring raft, or reporting invasive plant sightings
  • Reporting Fly tipping and littering – it's  unsightly and threatens people, wildlife and fisheries
  • Recording localised flooding and other river issues which affect your community
  • Acting as a point of contact in parishes and communities about river initiatives, raising awareness about the environment and liaising with river user groups.
  • Surveying for Riverflies - freshwater invertebrates that can be an early warning system for detecting water quality problems


Training required?                     Training required for some roles

Skills needed?                           Some species identification skills may be useful (training provided)

Equipment needed?                  Suitable clothing and footwear - all monitoring equipment will be provided.

To find out more about becoming a river warden, visit the Essex Rivers Hub website for details or email

A free e-learning course on non-native species is available here:

Click here to access River and Pond survey resources

Riversearch Otter and Water Vole Surveys

Otter. Photo: Roger Hance










The Riversearch otter and water vole survey was set up in 2007 and has trained over 200 volunteer surveyors to search for Otters, Water Voles, Water Shrews and Harvest Mice. Training courses are held throughout the year and are open to everyone, regardless of previous experience or knowledge.

The Riversearch Water Shrew Survey

Water shrew bait tube (Photo: Darren Tansley)

Essex Wildlife Trust is looking for volunteers to take part in researching the distribution of water shrews in the county.

Little is known of their current distribution but volunteers can help fill in the gaps by placing survey bait tubes along streams, ponds and ditches and collecting the scats left inside for analysis. Instructions on how to construct the bait tubes and take part in the survey are available here.

Contact: Darren Tansley, Water for Wildlife Officer for details of how to take part! Tel: 01621 862995.