Do you live in County Wicklow? Are you interested in becoming a citizen scientist?

We invite you to participate in Ken Whelan’s increasingly popular one-day Freshwater Detective course. You will gain additional skills in aquatic survey techniques and attend the AST’s, two day, Small Streams Characterisation Course (SSCS).

Freshwater  Detective Course

One evening and one half (field) day / Adults

Based on the content of the very successful Freshwater Detective series of lectures and field trips run over many years in University College Dublin and the more recent AST Small Streams Characterisation Programme (SSCS), this one day introductory course will give participants an understanding of the role which rivers, streams and loughs play in the functioning of Ireland’s freshwater ecosystems. Participants will gain a basic knowledge of life in a range of aquatic water bodies.They will discover how to identify the more common plants and animals, which may act as indicators of the health of the stream. The course will also introduce participants to the threats faced by these water courses, not alone from the more common impacts of land drainage and pollution but also the impacts which invasive fish, invertebrate and plant species can have on the functioning of Wicklow’s rivers streams and loughs.

This introductory course will consist of an evening on-line (18.30 to 21.00 + Q&A) and a half day field session 10.00 to 13.00 or 14.00 to 17.00. The field component of the course will include training on how to carry out a river survey, the collection and identification of key indicator invertebrate and plant species, ensuring connectivity within catchments and the importance of removing barriers to fish migration.

14th August: Online (Zoom) – 18.00 to 21.00 + Q&A

15th August: Field Course – Arklow, meet at the Car Park at Glenart Castle – 09.30 to 13.00

26th August: Online (Zoom) – 18.00 to 21.00 + Q&A
29th August: Field Course – Greystones, meeting location to be arranged – 09.30 to 13.00

11th September: Online (Zoom) – 18.00 to 21.00 + Q&A
12th September: Field Course – Tinahely / Aughrim, meeting location to be arranged – 09.30 to 13.00

2nd October: Online (Zoom) – 18.00 to 21.00 + Q&A
3rd October: Field Course – Enniskerry / Glencree, meeting location to be arranged – 09.30 to 13.00

If you are interested in attending one of the FWD courses or one of the SSCS courses or both, please fill in the registration form and email it back to us as soon as possible.

Download: FWD and SSCS Application Form (PDF version)

Download: FWD and SSCS Application Form (Word version)

Please use both of the email addresses below when returning your registration form:


Please note you cannot attend an EWRT course unless you are formally registered.

If you are not free to attend a course on the dates currently on offer but wish to participate in a future course (Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021), please forward a completed form and we will contact you with alternative choices in due course. It is hoped to run three additional FWD courses this autumn and three in spring. One SSCS course will be run later in the autumn and one in spring. Full details will be placed on the EWRT website in due course.

If you have any friends who would be interested in attending please pass on the registration form to them with a link to this page.

Please note these courses are likely to be heavily subscribed. We will of course do our best to fit you in on the date you have chosen but if the course is full we will offer you an alternative date or time.

The AST’s Small Streams Characterisation System (SSCS) Course

One day (online) and one full day in the field

The course is designed to train those who are interested in small streams on how best to monitor and characterise these small water bodies. The rationale behind the course is outlined below:

  • The course is based on a simple premise: that obtaining high-quality information on the condition of our small streams is key for catchment and fishery managers to put in place plans to protect the high quality water-courses and improve the problematic areas.
  • This citizen science based training programme covers the collection of data on fauna, flora and hydromorphology (the physical structure of the stream channel). It provides volunteers with the required skills and training to walk and monitor the small streams in their particular location, both small mountain streams and discrete coastal streams.
  • The objective of the assessment is not to intentionally seek out pollution points but to objectively assess the current status of small streams. In many ways identifying and highlighting the presence of pristine streams that have been little impacted by agricultural or forestry practices, is as important as identifying problems in damaged or degraded streams.
  • The Institute of Fisheries Management has accredited the course and will issue a Certificate of Achievement to those who successfully complete the SSCS course.

There is no requirement on a participant to take the assessment, but an IFM Certificate cannot be issued unless a participant has completed the full two day course and the assessment. Each student on the course will be enrolled as a  Friend of AST for one year (

If you wish to participate in the first online SSCS course, on the 24th October 2020 and the subsequent field day in spring 2021, could you please forward an email confirming your interest in the course to the following two email addresses:


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