Greater Manchester River Ecology Project


The UK policy requirement for development to achieve biodiversity net gain and ecological potential or status is currently not always met. At present, land use planning does not always result in the implementation of recommended measures for river ecological mitigation and enhancement.

A range of studies (carried out by and on behalf of Natural Course partners in Phases 1 & 2) identifies the requirement for more detailed plans and funding or investment, before ecological improvements can be made to riverside sites.

River enhancement schemes, delivered by CaBA partners and others, sometimes miss opportunities to provide multiple ecosystem service benefits and wider biodiversity net gain.

What we are doing

Reviewing and commenting on ecological safeguarding and biodiversity net gain at an early stage of land use planning of large riverside development proposals.  Intervening at this stage will make it easier and cheaper for the recommendations to be included in the development design and work plan.  This will improve the likelihood of adoption of ecological enhancements and lead to greater benefits being achieved.  (This Natural Course led activity is delivered by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, part of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council).

Facilitating improvements to riverside sites, especially wildlife sites, through the preparation of costed management plans and the development of business cases to attract investment. Commissioning specialist ecological or environmental surveys to support the management plans and to promote greater ecological safeguarding at large development sites. (This activity is supported by Natural Course and aims to attract complementary funding).

Ecological surveys and input to the design and implementation of river enhancement schemes to identify opportunities to deliver multiple ecosystem services benefits, contribution to Water Framework Directive requirements and achieving biodiversity net gain. (Natural Course funded activity).

360° photographs will be taken of the rivers in the location of the schemes and shared on Google maps to increase engagement and understanding of our rivers. (Natural Course funded activity).

Who else is involved?

 Ecologists at the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit provide comments on the plans for the development of large riverside sites. Specialist volunteers provide support for, and input to, the survey activity where appropriate.

Project location

Primarily the river catchments of Greater Manchester

Latest Update

Ecological safeguarding and biodiversity net gain recommendations made and followed through on 20 large riverside land use proposals.

4 wildlife site improvement funding plans or business cases produced.

Ecological assistance provided to 5 river intervention schemes in partnership with other Natural Course Beneficiaries.


Photo credit: Adrian Dancy