Understand our results
The data the project collects is vital in our fight to save the River and its catchment. Find out how.
The Chess Smarter Water Catchment project is collecting a range of data from its initiatives, including information about water quality, water vole populations, and results from citizen-science surveys. As we progress with our work, we will provide feedback on this data for our volunteers, stakeholders and the public.
2022 survey results:
Our first results show that May was a good month for riverfly communities with only a few areas of the Chess seeming to be suffering from critical pressures. Let’s hope this result is maintained when reassessed in the autumn!
2021 survey results:
Results from 38 surveys carried out on the River Chess and its tributaries between Chesham and Chorleywood showed water vole activity on 29 sections of the River. Results also showed that the population’s range had extended 1.5 km downstream from the previous survey in 2019. The number of water voles present was calculated from a detailed latrine count and results showed that the population had increased significantly from 2019. Water vole numbers are estimated at 92% of the 2001 population.Read our latest Water Vole Report
Water voles live on our waterways, burrowing into riverbanks and hiding among reedbeds. Spring is a great time of year to spot this fluffy, brown rodent as bankside vegetation will still be low. Look out for the signs that they are around: little piles of poo in ‘latrines’; stems of grasses chomped at a 45-degree angle; and a distinctive ‘plop’ as they dive into the water. If you spot one, take in their furry tails and blunt noses – most unlike brown rats, which they often get mistaken for. They are one of our most threatened mammals, having disappeared from more than 90% of their original habitats and now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. They are extremely vulnerable to habitat loss and predation by the non-native American mink.
More about data collection in the Chess catchment
Tracking the Impact
Tracking the Impact is a four year landscape-scale wildlife surveying programme across the Central Chilterns area, which has been further expanded in 2023 to include the Chess catchment area.
In 2022, our 78 volunteers submitted over 3,250 records between them, recording 335 species – with each record helping us to better understand the wildlife of the Chilterns.
All of the records for the survey squares have been entered onto our new online interactive map so you can see for yourself what birds, butterfly and plants have been recorded and where.