Office July! – Insights from our intern, Hannah

After jam-packed-with-events June, office July has been a wildly different ride!

I joke, of course…

Even though I have spent a large amount of my time this month in the office creating social media content, sorting through the photo database, and doing invertebrate identification, I have still attended some great events.

The Middle Dee Catchment Partnership (hosted by Welsh Dee Trust) held the first Aldford Brook Working Group meeting, in which members of different organisations (Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Cheshire Wildlife Trust etc.) came together to discuss the issues facing the Aldford Brook catchment area (one of the tributaries of the Dee in Cheshire), and what everyone was doing about it. This was a great opportunity to hear about the different projects and to meet a few of the people behind the scenes of some of the largest organisations in conservation.

Maddy and I also spent an afternoon providing training to a group of volunteers ready to join our citizen science pollution monitoring scheme. After a thorough health and safety briefing and demonstration, the volunteers got to it; taking a water sample and carrying out a phosphate test. To measure phosphate levels in a water sample, the test requires a relatively subjective decision to be made as to which level on the chart the colour of the water matches up to. This cemented for me the importance of volunteer training prior to citizen science projects. If all the participants were given solely written instructions, the human error in results would likely be much greater, however, as we were able to advise the volunteers in person and answer any questions, I would like to think we all left feeling confident!

A new perspective on water

July has also whizzed past so fast because I had a trip to Southern Norway to visit friends. And after spending my first month with the Trust prior to going, I went with a completely different view of rivers and waterways… Before, when seeing a river or stream I probably thought about how clear the water looked or if I saw any fish jumping. Now I notice straightening, reinforcements and meanders, and am looking for drain out-flows, destruction from livestock, and fish barriers.

We did plenty of wild swimming as well, and even when the water was what my Northern Norwegian friend referred to as ‘pond water’ (compared to the glacial lakes of the North!), it was still drastically cleaner than much of the water I have ever swam in back in the UK…

The state of our rivers hit me most on the plane home, looking down at the mass of undrained (or minimally drained) wetlands, appearing untouched by humanity; storing carbon, providing incredible habitat, and unobstructed fish migration!

A bit of a dark end perhaps… but I don’t see it this way! I see this as inspiration for what the UK could achieve, and with all of us working together and changes to legislation we do have a chance to turn the health of our rivers around.

See you next month!