PhD Student

About me

Olly is compelled by the need to restore damaged ecological systems through meaningful interventions and working with people. Prior to his PhD, Olly worked for the South East Rivers Trust managing river restoration projects, field trials to investigate methods to address urban pollution, and the development of the Trust’s educational activities. Before that, Olly was at the Norfolk Rivers Trust (NRT) where he wrote catchment plans and managed ecological restoration projects. At NRT he managed the delivery of an innovative treatment wetland for water quality improvement which was the basis for a large-scale adoption of similar treatment wetlands by Anglian Water, and is the subject of a recent publication in the journal Wetlands. Olly has also worked as a Visiting Lecturer at Saint Mary's University, London where he contributed to modules including: Water in the Environment, Process Geomorphology and Ecology and Conservation.

My project

Olly is PhD student based in the Department of Geography, UCL, and working with colleagues at the University of Stirling and the Centre for Ecology Hydrology. He is grateful to have been supported by expertise, funds, and field support from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in his project that focusses on the hydrological and water chemistry impacts of a population of Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in Scotland. Beavers have generated great interest as the first native mammal re-introduction to the UK and are considered habitat engineers because of their remarkable ability to dam small waterbodies. Olly’s work builds on previous research which has shown that beaver dams may provide natural flood management benefits and are an agent of habitat restoration. Olly is also investigating the effectiveness of a flow device, used in countries where beavers are common, to mitigate any adverse effects of raised water levels in beaver ponds on adjacent agricultural land.


  • Olly’s background is as an ecologist with an interest in the effects of water quality. In the PhD he is learning new skills:
  • Stream flow measurement using a variety of techniques and instruments.
  • Shallow groundwater measurement and soil hydrology.
  • Topographic survey methods using a differential GPS and a drone.
  • Sediment surveys and sediment analysis.
  • Hydrological modelling using the coupled hydraulic / hydrological models MIKE 11/ MIKE SHE.


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

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

Selected reports

van Biervliet, O Gilbert, N, Beale Collins, L, Davies. (2016) London Total Suspended Solids Project, Technical Report supported by Defra

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.

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

Research Gate