Morph study

River condition assessment following the morph survey method

Recently, our Ecologists have been undertaking MoRPh Pro training to establish a River Condition Assessment and calculate Biodiversity Net Gain for watercourses in Ireland. During this training, they are learning how to conduct the appropriate surveys in line with the Biodiversity Net Gain Metrics used in the United Kingdom. Throughout this training, MKO Ecologists have assessed the condition of river stretches in Ireland and identified both positive river features worth protecting and features of potential improvement for river systems.

Initially designed for use in citizen science, the MoRPh (Modular River Physical) field survey is now a component of River Condition Assessment within Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric 3.1 and plays an important role in Biodiversity Net Gain calculations. A MoRPh field survey addresses and records 37 indicators that, once combined and assessed alongside a desktop river-type survey, allow a surveyor to describe the condition of a chosen stretch of river. These indicators include morphological river features such as riverbed substrate type and flow type, as well as bankside vegetation structure and composition.

The methods learned through MoRPh Pro training will allow us at MKO to approach river condition assessment in a standardised and established way. River Condition Assessment will be a core contributor to assessing Biodiversity Net Gain in watercourses across a range of ongoing and future projects undertaken by MKO. Biodiversity Net Gain practices are an opportunity to improve our biodiversity across Ireland. Rivers are dynamic and complex systems, but by understanding how to improve their condition, we can have a lasting positive impact on our waterways.

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