Project - River Holme Connections

River Mapping – making a difference



In April 2019 we embarked on, what could be argued, is our most important project to date: mapping the River Holme catchment.

Throughout the summer, Ryan Lloyd, our Geographical Information Systems (GIS) student, collected a wealth of data about our catchment. He and his team of volunteers counted birds, located invasive species and gave us a better understanding of the geography of our rivers and physical features, such as weirs and bridges.

This baseline information regarding the current health of the River Holme catchment is incredibly valuable. It will allow us to target future work more accurately and provide a benchmark against which we can measure success. Over the longer term, it will show if we really are making the River Holme catchment a better place for people and animals.

Project cost: The River Mapping project was part of the Our Holme project, funded by Cummins Community Foundation, which had a total project cost in excess of £50,000.


The project would not have been possible without the help of a team of volunteers, funding from Cummins Community Foundation, and of course the hard work and expertise of Ryan Lloyd. Thank you!


Everything we do as a charity, from renovating the Duck Feeding area to planting trees and fishing litter out of rivers, has one overall aim: to make the River Holme catchment a better place for people and wildlife.

We know we’re making improvements. We’ve collected tonnes of litter and removed invasive species from miles of riverbank. People often tell us how they love the new paths at Bottoms Mill and we’re complemented on how Spa Wood looks with the new signposts and cleaner, clearer paths.

But tangible proof that we’re making a long term difference has been harder to find.

Until now…

A line in the sand

In April 2019, Ryan Lloyd, a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) student on placement from Sheffield Hallam University, joined our team. His brief was to ‘map’ the River Holme.

Using specialist electronic mapping equipment, Ryan used his GIS skills to build a clear picture of the current state of the River Holme catchment. This provided us with valuable baseline data that can be used to inform future projects, and help us to target our conservation work even more accurately.

The data also acts as a benchmark so that we can monitor long term changes in fish, animal and bird populations and plant species.

“This GIS project will transform the work we do at River Holme Connections. It has pinpointed native animals and plants, as well as identifying outfall pipes and barriers to fish migration. It also gives us the exact location of invasive species so that we can target our work to control and remove non-native, invasive species more accurately and effectively,” said Simon Hirst, River Holme Connections River Steward.

A painstaking process

Using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, Ryan and his team of volunteers walked the length and breadth of our catchment. They counted animals and birds, noted fish populations and located invasive plant species, including Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed.

This data was computerised and, using © OpenStreetMap software, an interactive map was created to show where birds, invasive species, barriers and more are found along our river.

Summing up the project, Ryan said:

“I believe learning more about how the wildlife and people interact within this key habitat is an important part of managing the river network,” added Ryan. “I thoroughly enjoyed working our volunteers on this incredibly exciting legacy project.”

See for yourself

Take a look at our River Map page. To open the menu, click on the blue diamond at the top right hand side of the screen. Then select the data set that you would like to see displayed on the map.