Protecting the Tyne rivers: a dive into data
All of our projects at Tyne Rivers Trust have been carefully designed and achieved to help us deliver them on time, budget and crucially, deliver the results the river needs. Some of the data will be new and some of it could be centuries old.
What data do we use, and why?
Protecting the Tyne rivers against a surging tide of pollution, climate change, invasive species, habitat destruction and so much more means we rely on data to help us work smarter, not harder. The Tyne Rivers Trust team sits at a 15 person head count at the time of writing, and we are a specialist team with backgrounds and passions in all things hydrology, topology, habitat creation and photography. It is this heady mix of skillsets and expertise that puts us in a fantastic position to do this vital work. Add to that a wealth of local knowledge and a desire to keep our finger on the pulse and an ear to the ground and you start getting a more intimate insight into how this small environmental charity works.
On a daily basis, our team of volunteers and citizen scientists collect data that will form long term data sets on invertebrates, simple water chemistry, rainfall and water temperature. Electro-fishing surveys carried out by Tyne Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency for example help build a picture of the rivers’ health at that moment in time and we use it to better understand the conditions and spot trends.
Where specialised projects demand it, we’ll use data in the form of Lidar — Light Detection and Ranging — a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the Earth. We create maps of the catchment using data gathered through NECH (North East Catchments Hub) based on issues and partnership data, from University research data through student placements and sub-Catchment partnerships and data shared with us by The Rivers Trust to name a few important sources.
Many of our projects require a bespoke solution, like work we did on Wellhope Burn where modelling data generated externally for subcatchments shows us high-resolution information on how water moves and gathers in a small area to help design features such as wetlands to ensure new habitat creation is a success. One recent project involves silt traps which are used to catch sediment to analyse where it has come from as we seek to tackle erosion siltation in the Tyne rivers.
Sometimes, a project might require a freedom of information request, community observation and lived experience data, fishing returns from anglers and fish counters in the area or drainage maps from archival data that may have been recorded well before anything electronic was invented!
The projects we carry out on the Tyne and its tributaries have a profound effect on our wildlife, our mental health, our homes and land, our leisure and tourism and our communities. The work that we do is not just for a better river, but a better region and better life for everyone and data helps us every step of the way.