Catchment Management

The River Wear has many different industries and land uses throughout its catchment area and as the recipient of rainfall, surface water runoff and groundwater fed springs, its health is often determined by management activities which have taken place above or below ground and sometimes well away from any visible watercourses. Protecting the health of the river therefore requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach which often involves representatives from many different sectors including local authorities, academia, landowners, water companies, local businesses, communities and recreation clubs. By focusing on effective partnership working and developing grass roots projects with local communities which work with natural processes rather than against them, the trust has been able to develop and deliver a wide range of projects tackling issues including rural diffuse pollution, mine water pollution, non-native invasive species, urban runoff, flooding, habitat degradation and connectivity, groundwater protection and more.

Catchment Based Approach (CaBA)

 The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) is a civil society-led initiative that works in partnership with NGOs, Government, Local Authorities, Water Companies, businesses etc, to maximise the natural value of our environment. To learn more see the link below.




We work with schools across the Wear catchment providing river trips to offer children first-hand experience of rivers, as well as classroom sessions and project work. We primarily work with Key Stage 2 pupils but are happy to work with any age group, including secondary schools and university students. See below for our current school activities. Please contact Lucy Lovett, Education Officer, for prices and further information. Depending on current funding, we may be able to offer some activities free or at a reduced cost.

River Visits


  We believe every child should have the opportunity to explore rivers first-hand and so offer river visits to a variety of sites across the catchment. Visits are curriculum based and can include themes such as ‘Journey of a River’ and ‘River Life’. Where possible we offer hands-on, in-river activities as part of the day. The site you choose will depend on your learning outcomes as well as the activities you wish to do. We will work with you to determine the best sites and activities for your needs and where appropriate are happy to help you use your local river as an outdoor classroom. We can also show you sites where we have done habitat improvement works and installed fish passes.

Classroom Sessions


If a river visit isn’t possible then we can come to you! We are happy to work with you to deliver river-themed classroom sessions to suit your needs.

Mayfly in the Classroom


Aimed at Key Stage 2 this is a fantastic way for pupils to learn about life-cycles and river habitats and food chains. Pupils visit the river to search for and collect mayfly nymphs before returning to the classroom to construct aqauria in which to look after the nymphs for two weeks, until they hatch into adult mayflies. Pupils can then return to the river to release the adult mayflies.

Riverfly for Schools


This river monitoring project links into the national Riverfly Monitoring Initiative. Pupils visit their local river each month to help us keep an eye on water quality by monitoring river invertebrates. Participation enables children to develop a sense of stewardship of their environment whilst learning about the pressures rivers face. This project is free to schools though spaces are limited.

John Muir Award


  The Wear Rivers Trust is a recognised John Muir Award provider and we are currently working with primary schools in the Bishop Auckland and Gaunless Valley areas to help pupils gain their John Muir Award. The John Muir Award is all about exploring wild places and pupils spend a week undertaking outdoor activities along the length of the River Gaunless to Discover, Explore and Conserve the river and Share what they have learnt. More information about the John Muir Award can be found at 

Our Funders


Community Engagement

The Wear Rivers Trust could not achieve what is has and what it aims to achieve in the future without the assistance of its dedicated network of volunteers. Volunteers bring a diverse range of skills and experience to our organisation, helping us to deliver conservation objectives that would be unachievable without them. We offer a variety of volunteer roles for both individuals and groups. You don’t have to know anything about rivers, fish or wildlife to volunteer with us; all we ask is that you share our goal of wanting to improve and conserve the River Wear catchment.

Engaging with communities is essential for achieving and sustaining improvements to watercourses within the Wear catchment. We always aim to involve the community in every watercourse improvement we undertake, instilling a sense of pride and ownership in a watercourse within the local community is the only truly sustainable way to achieve long term improvements for a watercourse. Bringing the community together to focus on making local watercourses better places for all to enjoy is vital to ensure a continuing legacy of care and improvement for them. 

Get Involved

We're always on the look out for new volunteers. If you would be interested in learning more please check out our 'Get Involved' section via the link below.

Science, Research & Monitoring



The Trust is dedicated to improving the health of the River Wear, through a combination of observations, monitoring, research and citizen science. This task is accomplished by our team who are collectively devoted to creating a better Wear for all. Our staff members have a wide range of specialist skills in order to provide this service, from ecologists to education officers, hydrogeologists to flood risk analysis. In areas where we may be lacking in specialist expertise we often know of where/who to find the answer through our extensive network of universities, technical experts, environmental organisations and local specialists.


  • We facilitate Riverfly monitoring across the Wear catchment, coordinating with the wider program which aims to assist volunteers in recording/monitoring the health of the river through ecological surveying. (If you would like to get involved in protecting your local river and have a couple of hours a month to spare then you could become one of our network of Riverfly Monitors. Monitors sample river invertebrates once a month to help us keep an eye on water quality as part of the national Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative. Volunteers are required to attend a free riverfly training day before starting their monitoring to learn how to sample and identify the riverflies. All monitoring kits are provided free by WRT. To find out more please contact Lucy Lovett, Education Officer. Further information about the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative can be found HERE)

  • Electrofishing is undertaken on many of the Wear’s tributaries in order to ascertain fish populations, particularly in areas where obstructions such as weirs & dams have been removed downstream.

  • Flow monitoring has been employed in the investigation of losses of surface flow to groundwater through the Topsoil research project.

  • Recording, targeting and eradication of invasive species along the river.

Science & Research

Together with our project partners, the WRT are involved in a number of exciting and areas of research, development and project delivery, including; surface water / groundwater interaction, peatland restoration, pollutant receptor assessment, natural flood management, diffuse metal pollution, water governance & policy, channel naturalisation and a novel digital storytelling method through the Storymaps project.

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