Learn how to maintain and improve our valuable waterways – bodies of fresh water, springs, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, canals and ditches.

‘Waterways’ includes bodies of fresh water, springs, ponds,  lakes,  streams,  rivers, canals and ditches. ‘Wetlands’ describes sites which are waterlogged or water-covered for a significant part of the year, including swamps, marshes, bogs, fens and wet grasslands.

Of all parts of the natural environment, waterways and wetlands are amongst the most threatened.

What to expect

Waterways & Wetlands subjects

Background info

Illustration of a section of a pond

Loads of background information about ponds, waterways and wetlands, their ecology, management and the law, and safe working practices.

Habitat creation

Pond liner profile and section

Clear, step-by-step, practical techniques for creating and managing ponds. A look at linings and what to plant to ensure success.

Habitat management

Illustration of a revetment

An in-depth look at restoring existing ponds and waterways, as well as an overview of vegetation and many features, like islands and dams.

Waterways & Wetlands: a practical handbook – chapters

The original, printed TCV handbook “Waterways & Wetlands, a practical handbook” contained 169 pages. Every one of these pages is included in these digital versions.

A brief introduction to the subject of waterways and wetlands.

A look at the historical interaction of people and nature which has produced today’s landscape and today’s problems and which continues to determine the character of Britain’s waterways and wetlands.

An introduction to the ecology of wetlands and waterways of all kinds.

A brief outline of the threats, opportunities, problems and principles of wetland management.

The vital importance of fresh water to all aspects of life is reflected in complex legislation which regulates different aspects of water management and usage.

Safety and equipment for a variety of work on wetlands.

The principles behind creating a new pond – design, siting, water supply and more.

Linings for the construction of ponds for general wildlife, conservation and educational interest.

The planting and initial management of new ponds and other waterbodies.

Methods of digging out and clearing mud, silt, ooze and rubbish from waterways and ponds that require restoration. Vegetation clearance is also covered.

The art of creating, stabilising and reprofiling banks, wave barriers and access – dipping platforms, boardwalks and causeways.

A look at creating and managing islands and rafts as shelter and nesting habitats for a range of birds.

The design, maintenance and repair of ditches and drains for either lowering or raising water levels as part of conservation management.

This chapter describes simple dams, weirs and sluices, the construction of which may be suitable for involving volunteers.

Methods of managing aquatic and bankside vegetation in and around ponds, waterways and wetlands. This includes management by cutting, grazing or other control methods as necessary.

These tables summarise habitat requirements and management features of characteristic waterway and wetland plants.

A list of some suppliers of related plants and materials.

Site studies and surveys are important to establish the existing status of ponds, lakes, marshes, streams and other watercourses, and to measure changes over time.

Definitions of the terms mentioned in the text.

A list of the publications referred to in the text, as well as others relevant to the subject of wetlands.

What is in the handbooks?

Step by step

All the processes in the handbooks are explained in easy to follow language, using step-by-step guides that are ideal for all levels.

Clearly Illustrated

Over 2,000 helpful illustrations accompany the text, adding clarity.


The handbooks cover all the topics you need to improve your skills and knowledge.


Written by conservation experts, the handbooks are highly valued by users across the conservation sector.