River Macrophytes Database



The JNCC River Macrophytes Database (RMD) is a Microsoft Access database constructed to house data on the plant communities of rivers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It includes data from over 7000 survey sites and is the most comprehensive database of its kind. Data have been collected from all over the UK between 1977 and the present day, following the methods of Holmes et al. (1999).


The macrophyte survey method records aquatic and marginal plants in a 500 m-long survey section of river. Species from the river channel and the margins/base of the bank are recorded separately on a three-point scale of relative abundance and percentage cover. A standard check-list of species is used to aid recording. The field data can be used to classify the plant community as described by Holmes et al. (1999), and the database has a facility that allows keying-out of the community to sub-type level. This plant community classification has been used as the basis of river SSSI selection (see chapter 6 of Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs). The database also holds a small amount of invertebrate and fish data.


The RMD is an ‘active’ database (i.e. survey records can still be added). However, with a new standard method of river plant survey now being adopted by the UK conservation agencies (i.e. the LEAFPACS method), it is likely that less surveys will be added in future, and it may develop into more of a 'legacy' database.


In the past the database was made available to the public through requests for CD copies, but in 2011 it was made available through this website.



Accompanying the database are three main background documents, which are available in the download folder below, and also individually for reference: a User Guide (PDF, 720kb), a Technical Manual (PDF, 442kb), and a Data Capture Spreadsheet Guidance document (PDF, 516kb) There is also a ReadMe file (PDF, 7kb) and a Data Capture Spreadsheet.


The database consists of two MS Access .mdb files: macrophytes_data.mdb which contains the macrophyte survey data; and macrophytes_code.mdb, which contains a set of database queries to help extract information.  These two files must be kept within the same folder for the database to work.  The database has been incorporated into a computer program to facilitate its use  For information on how to install and run the program (and therefore access the database), please refer to the User Guide. which also contains information about how to use the database to find the information you require.

The Technical Manual includes the technical information about the system architecture, data tables and security.

The same data may also be downloaded in an MS Excel spreadsheet, although you must have access to MS Excel 2007 or later, due to the large number of records in some of the worksheets. If you open the spreadsheet in earlier versions of Excel you will not be able to view all the data (i.e. >65,000 rows).

The Data Capture Spreadsheet Guidance Document provides information on how to enter new data into the Data Capture Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is compatible with the database structure and has been provided so that any new macrophyte survey data may be submitted in a format suitable for facilitating updates of the master copy of the database.


Gaps in the Data

Please note that there are currently gaps in the ‘site’ table in the database (and therefore the spreadsheet) where some sites have been entered without information on their country or grid reference. Therefore, database queries or spreadsheet filtering based on these incomplete fields/columns may produce incomplete results. Please contact JNCC using the details below for further information.



Holmes, N.T.H., Boon, P.J. & Rowell, T.A. 1999. Vegetation communities of British rivers: a revised classification. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.


Terms and Conditions of Use

All users are required to read and agree to the terms and conditions set out in the end-user licence prior to use of the database. To download the database please click the link below.



By downloading the database you are agreeing to our terms and conditions (see above). Please note the River Macrophytes Database is a large file (139MB) which will take around 5 hours 45 mins to download with a 56 Kb modem.

Download the River Macrophytes Database and supporting documentation.

The documents provided in the download include:

The macrophytes survey data: macrophytes_code.mdb

The macrophytes database forms and queries: macrophytes_data.mdb

A spreadsheet version of the information exported from the database: RMD_Export_20110331.xlsx

The 'read me' latest information file: readme.txt

The documentation files: User_Guide.pdf; Technical_Manual.pdf

The data capture spreadsheet: Data_Capture_Spreadsheet.xls

The data capture guidance file: Data_Capture_Spreadsheet_Guidance.pdf



If you have any queries regarding any of the information above or about the River Macrophytes Database itself, or wish to submit new macrophyte survey data for inclusion in the master copy of the database, please contact the Database Manager: .