Our achievements

Our achievements

Our Chess Smarter Water Catchment project is tackling the issues that face the river and its catchment through partnership working.


The Chess Smarter Water Catchment project started in 2021 with the vision of making the River Chess catchment a jewel in the heart of the Chilterns landscape. Work is well underway to make this happen, protecting landscapes, enhancing habitats and improving water quality and flow. But there is plenty more to do over the 10-year term of the project.

What can you do to help?

There are myriad ways you can get involved, from making basic changes around the house to how you use water to creating space for nature on your land.

What have we done so far?

  • Fenced 800 m section of the Little Chess to reduce poaching from cattle and increase vegetation and suitable habitat for water voles.
  • Launched a suite of citizen-science initiatives and training to monitor water quality; currently have 40 members of the public engaged.
  • Created a baseline document called the State of the River Chess, showing where we are now and where we need to get to.
  • Increased the capacity of water quality monitoring through the deployment of two new sensors, which monitor nitrate, phosphate, oxygen levels, velocity, turbidity, pH, temperature, ammonia, dissolved organic matter, and more.
  • Employed five members of staff: Project Coordinator, Chess Farming Adviser, Engagement Officer, Citizen Scientist Coordinator and the Secondment of Professor Kate Heppell from Queen Mary University of London.
  • Through the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, engaged with farmers to complete surveys of agricultural land. This work will be continued by the Chess Farming Officer.
  • Hosted Masters students on the Chess, who are collecting and analysing data on chalk streams.
  • Started a River Restoration project at Restore Hope Latimer, which aims to create optimum habitat for water vole population expansion.
  • Lobbied government on the plight of chalk streams.
  • Identified priority habitats within the Chess Catchment.

What does the future hold?

Future projects include:

  • Expand the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs model of Tracking the Impact into the Chess catchment, collecting survey data on birds, butterflies and plants across set locations.
  • Build a website to showcase the work we are currently undertaking.
  • Use targeted education in schools and with wider demographics to illustrate the need for water efficiency.
  • Train volunteers in managing Invasive Non-Native Species.
  • Deploy two new sensors in the lower reaches of the Chess, which will focus on collecting water quality data at Loudwater and Rickmansworth.
  • Create and develop a Chess Catchment Farming Cluster to look at linking landscapes and habitats through farmer engagement.
  • Prioritise projects to receive landowner grant funding within the catchment.
  • Build public engagement through a broad range of opportunities within the catchment and enable community involvement through funding streams, such as the community grants.
  • Build partnership/stakeholder engagement through the delivery of on-the-ground projects.
Chilterns ANOB
Chilterns ANOB

Chilterns Chalk Streams Project

Learn about our flagship partnership project, committed to conserving our threatened chalk streams and the wildlife they hold.
Chilterns ANOB

Wetland wildlife

Learn about the wetland wildlife of the Chilterns, where to go for wildlife, what to spot and what's rare.