Dr Olly van Biervliet

Wetland Landscapes and Processes Manager

About me

Globally, wetlands continue to degrade and disappear at an alarming pace, and I am highly motivated to gather and communicate knowledge that facilitates their large-scale restoration. On a personal level, I have been lucky enough to experience the joy of being immersed in high quality wetlands but also of seeing some of the cherished rivers that I grew up fishing slide into a sad and degraded state. It hurts me to see this. However, I have also seen first-hand how wetlands can be rise from even the direst of states to become full of wonder once again. These experiences give me a great sense of hope. I believe that inter-relationships between physical, chemical and ecological processes underlie healthy aquatic ecosystems – and I strive to facilitate research that helps to find the best ways to treat the ultimate causes of wetland decline, rather than simply treating the symptoms.

My scientific career started with a degree in Marine Biology (University of Liverpool 2004-2007), but I then moved “inland” to freshwater environments, with my first scientific research focusing on the effects of land use on stream ecosystems in Tanzania. I then qualified as a teacher and taught high school biology and sports physiology and psychology for four enjoyable years before “returning to the water” to study the multi-disciplinary Aquatic Sciences MSc led the inspirational Professor Carl Sayer at UCL. This led to several years working for two Rivers Trusts (Norfolk and South East Rivers Trusts) working at the “coal face” of aquatic restoration projects and operationally-driven research including about the effectiveness of an Integrated Constructed Wetland. For my PhD (UCL/ University of Stirling/ UK CEH), I studied the hydrological effects of beaver dams and built the first successfully calibrated and validated hydrological/hydraulic model to represent beaver dams. Following my PhD I joined WWT and some of my recent and ongoing publications have focused on how harnessing the driving forces of natural processes can help to power ecological restoration forwards (see publications).

My role

As Manager of the Wetland Landscapes and Processes Team within the Conservation Evidence Department I oversee an exciting research portfolio that is targeted at informing delivery of wetland restoration and policy. The skilled team of researchers within the Wetland Landscapes and Processes Team are engaged in research that includes eco-hydrology, geomorphology and spatial analysis spanning the UK, Madagascar and Cambodia.

Experience and interests

  • Project management
  • Eco-hydrology
  • Hydrometric monitoring
  • Survey methods for instance using a differential GPS and drones
  • GIS
  • Hydrological and hydraulic modelling (using the coupled MIKE SHE / MIKE 11)
  • Coding in R statistical software (using this to automate data handling and analytical processes).


Sayer C, van Biervliet O, Pearce R, Mills T, (In press) Wetland restoration and rewilding, In: Dixon A and Maddock I (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Wetlands

Sayer C, van Biervliet O, Pearce R, Mills T, (In press) In natural processes we trust: rewilding gives hope for freshwater wetland restoration. British Wildlife

PhD thesis: The hydrological effects of the Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber) in a UK headwater stream. Wetlands Research Unit, Department of Geography, University College London.

van Biervliet O, McInnes RJ, Lewis-Phillips J, Tosney J. (2020). Can an Integrated Constructed Wetland in Norfolk Reduce Nutrient Concentrations and Promote In Situ Bird Species Richness? Wetlands. 40: 967–981

van Biervliet, O Gilbert, N, Beale Collins, L, Davies. (2016). London Total Suspended Solids Project, Technical Report supported by Defra. South East Rivers Trust and Thames 21.

van Biervliet, O, Webb, D, Davies, B (2015). Silt and Suds, Improving Water Quality in an Urban Environment. Technical Report for the Environment Agency assessing the effectiveness of pollution-reduction measures. South East Rivers Trust.

van Biervliet, O (2014). Five Water Framework Directive Catchment Plans: Rivers: Hun, Mun, Burn, Ingol, Heacham. Norfolk Rivers Trust.

van Biervliet, O, Wiśniewski, K, Daniels, J, & Vonesh, JR (2009). Effects of Tea Plantations on Stream Invertebrates in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot in Africa. Biotropica, 41(4), 469–475

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