Wednesday 24 February 2016
The Chilterns Chalk Streams Project in partnership with Chiltern Rangers CIC, the Environment Agency and a hardy bunch of volunteers completed work to improve habitat along a 150m long section of the river adjacent to Bourne End Recreation Ground.
The river at this location had become degraded through past management practices which had led to it becoming straightened, over-wide and heavily shaded by bankside trees. As a result the river lacked the habitat features normally associated with healthy chalk streams.
To address this, the CCSP working with partners under the banner of Revive the Wye, a local community initiative dedicated to improving the condition of the river, developed a plan to restore the river for the benefit of fish and other wildlife.
Supported by funding from the Catchment Partnership Action Fund, the CCSP, Chiltern Rangers and the Foundation For Water Research, work began in January with a program of tree management work carried out by specialist tree surgeons Bartlett Tree Experts, to increase the amount of light reaching the river.
Using the woody material generated by the tree work , over the course of two days, more than 30 volunteers from Bucks New University rugby and football cubs, Revive the Wye, Chiltern Rangers, the River Chess Associaition and local community worked tirelessly to a create a number of instream woody habitat structures such as marginal shelves and deflectors. The shelves were installed to narrow the overwide channel and help the river to meander, whilst creating valuable marginal habitat, which is otherwise absent from this section of the river. Elsewhere, logs were used to create the flow deflectors, which are designed to push flow in to central channel locations and create pools for fish to live in.
It is hoped that in the coming months, that wildlife will begin to colonise these new features and provide a spectacle for users of the park to enjoy.
The project is one of three restoration schemes being carried out by the partners of the Revive the Wye initiative this winter supported by the Catchment Partnership Action Fund. Work to improve Funges Meadow Nature reserve was completed in January by Chiltern Rangers and a further project to install flow defectors inteh Wye at Wooburn Park will take place next month.
The Catchment Partnership Action Fund, is a government fund created to support river improvements throughout England. The funding for this project was made available by the Foundation for Water Research, who are hosts for the S. Chilterns catchment.