Site navigation:

ECOFACT ECOFACT | River Habitat Survey (RHS) | Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries

The category page

River Habitat Survey (RHS)

River Habitat Survey Ireland and UK

ECOFACT is the only company in Ireland to offer River Habitat Survey (RHS). River Habitat Survey is a methodology for recording habitat features for wildlife that was designed by the UK Environment Agency, for use in Britain and Ireland. River Habitat Survey is used as a standard methodology for assessing hydromorphology as part of the EU Water Framework and as a tool for monitoring river habitats and for assessing potential impacts of developments.

ECOFACT staff are fully qualified to undertake River Habitat Survey (RHS) following the ‘River Habitat Survey in Britain and Ireland Field Survey Guidance Manual: 2003 Version’ published by the Environment Agency (EA, 2003). All RHS site data we collect is entered into the Rapid 2.1 access database developed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

River-Habitat-Survey-(RHS) 2 River-Habitat-Survey-1

This database also allows for the generation of the following scores:

  • Habitat Modification Scores (HMS)
  • Habitat Modification Classifications (HMC)
  • Habitat Quality Assessment (HQA)

These scores are generated as tables for completed RHS sites, and are explained below.


River Habitat Survey – Habitat Quality Assessment (HQA)

The Habitat Quality Assessment (HQA) is a broad indication of overall habitat diversity provided by natural features in the channel and river corridor. Points are scored for the presence of features such as point, side and mid-channel bars, eroding cliffs, large woody debris, waterfalls, backwaters and floodplain wetlands. Additional points are attributed to reflect the variety of channel substrata, flow-types, in-channel vegetation, and also the distribution of bank-side trees and the extent of near-natural land-use adjacent to the river. The HQA score for a site is the total of all the component scores in each of the habitat / channel diversity categories; with no single hydromorphological feature dominating. The higher the score, the more highly rated / diverse the site; attribute points and cumulative scores are developed within the RAPID 2.1 database. Total HQA scores for UK (and Irish) rivers tend to vary from 10 – 80.

RHS-Survey-2 RHS-River-habitat-Survey SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

River Habitat Survey – Habitat Modification Score (HMS)

Habitat Modification Score (HMS) is an indication of artificial modification to river channel morphology. Data from RHS and the supplementary bank vegetation notes were used to provide a broad assessment of the naturalness of the river banks with regard to the degree and persistence of artificial modifications which are evaluated as the Habitat Modification Score (HMS). To calculate the HMS for a site, points are allocated for the presence and extent of artificial features such as culverts and weirs and also modifications caused by the re-profiling and reinforcement of banks. Greater and more severe modifications result in a higher score. The cumulative points total provides the Habitat Modification Score (HMS).


Habitat Modification Class (HMC)

A Habitat Modification Class (HMC) protocol has been developed which allocates the condition of the channel in a site to one of five modification classes, based on the total HMS score (1 = pristine to 5 = severely modified).

ECOFACT is the only company in Ireland to offer River Habitat Survey. If you require any further information on River Habitat Survey, or any other aquatic ecological service, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Current News Stories:

  • Bats surveys for wind turbines – new guidance

    Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) published new guidance in January 2019 for bats surveys at wind farm sites. These new guidelines are entitled “Bats and onshore wind turbines – survey, assessment and mitigation”. The document incorporates findings from the latest research on the impact of wind farms on bats.  It is endorsed by all the statutory […]

    Continue Reading
  • Non-volant mammal surveys 2019

    We are one of the leading companies in Ireland providing mammal surveys and assessments. We provide expert advise on both bats and terrestrial non-volant (i.e. non-flying) mammals. We undertake surveys for all terrestrial non-volant mammal species in Ireland, including Badger, Otter, Red Squirrel, Pine Marten, and non-native American Mink, among others. Our staff are fully […]

    Continue Reading
  • Filming a documentary on Sea Lampreys

    We were delighted to work recently with BBC Earth on a documentary on Sea Lampreys Petromyzon marinus. The filming took place during early-June 2017 on the old River Shannon at Castleconnell, Co Limerick. This is part of the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation, and Sea Lampreys are a key conservation interest of this […]

    Continue Reading
  • Major new book – Wildlife and Wind Farms

    A major new book will be published in May 2017 entitled ‘Wildlife and Wind Farms: Conflicts and Solutions’. Volume 1 of this book includes a chapter prepared by Ecofact Principal Ecologist Dr. William O’Connor. The two-volume set provides a comprehensive overview of the interactions between wind farms and wildlife, each volume dedicated to one of the two […]

    Continue Reading
  • Surveying wintering birds in the Irish Midlands

    Our staff are currently undertaking a number of wintering bird surveys in the Irish Midlands. Here we have provided some photos and videos from bird surveys we undertook during December 2015. Our bird surveys are undertaken to inform both the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Natura Impact Statement (NIS) reports being prepared for proposed wind energy […]

    Continue Reading

Photo Gallery

View More >>

Site Search