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River Wye benefits from habitat enhancement project

Wednesday 9 November 2011

River Wye benefits from habitat enhancement project

In the last week of October volunteers from Revive the Wye, teamed up with the Wild Trout Trust, Environment Agency, Chepping Wycombe Parish Council and the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project to carry out a project to improve habitat along a section of the Wycombe Marsh Brook at King's Mead in High Wycombe.

The Wycombe Marsh Brook is a chalk stream tributary of the River Wye.  In the past both the Wye and the Marsh Brook supported excellent populations of wild brown trout, however urbanisation of much of the river valley, along with the industrialisation of High Wycombe, has lead to the degradation of habitat and water quality which has had a detrimental impact on fish populations in the river. Although water quality over the last twenty years has improved a great deal, a lack of suitable habitat along many stretches of the river has prevented fish populations from recovering fully.Narrowing the river using faggots

In order to address this problem, Revive the Wye has carried out a number of projects to improve habitat along the river.  The most recent project, carried out at the end of October, aimed to improve habitat along a 200m section of the Marsh Brook that had been straightened and dredged in the past. A number of techniques were employed to narrow the river down, helping to remove silt and expose gravels that are essential for trout spawning. Logs and other large woody debris were also used to provide areas of cover for fish, create different flow patterns and depth profiles and to generally provide a number of different habitats beneficial for fish and aquatic insects and plants.fish fry refuge

Tom Sherwood, Fisheries Officer for the Environment Agency said,

“The sort of small scale habitat enhancements we have undertaken here on the Wycombe Marsh Brook are pretty cheap, however they are an incredibly effective means of providing the sort of habitat that the local fish, plant and invertebrate populations require.”

Allen Beechey from the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project added,

“What was previously a section of river that was uniform and had little in the way of ecological value has now been improved through a number of low cost techniques which will really benefit local river wildlife.”

Jeff Herschel, Chairman of Chepping Wycombe Parish Council, who helped to coodinate the work and provide materials said,

“ The work builds on a similar project undertaken last year at Boundary Park, where residents have pointed out that not only has it improved the habit for wildlife but also made a significant improvement to the visual amenity of Loudwater”.

If you would like to find out more about the Revive the Wye project, visit their website here.

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