Chalk Streams and Wetland Meadows Project - Update February 2022

Chalk Streams and Wetland Meadows Project – Update February 2022

Back in July, the Chilterns Conservation Board and The Chiltern Society secured £294,000 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for the Chalk Streams and Wetland Meadows Project. Here’s an update on work so far by the two new project officers, based at the Chiltern Society.

The initiative comprises a suite of projects, which include:

  • creating essential habitats for water voles and brown trout on the River Chess
  • restoring the River Wye backstream at Wycombe Marsh
  • and enhancing sections of the Hamble and Ewelme Brooks.
  • New interpretation boards will be created on the Chess Valley Walk, and education projects will be developed for schools and the community to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of chalk streams and their special wildlife.

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These projects are now well underway. Here’s an update from the two new Project Officers, based at The Chiltern Society, on their first few months with the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project:

An Update from Laura Silverstone, Education & Engagement Officer, Chalk Streams & Wetland Meadows Project

The Chess Valley walk project is well underway with lots of discussions and designing behind the scene.

A Visitor survey was carried out highlighting what issues people have along the route, which sections are used the most and what people love about the walk. Path restoration is being planned, with work being done in some sections imminently. We will also shortly have a new logo for the Chess Valley Walk to share.

We have been working hard at strengthening relationships with schools along the route through the Trout in Classroom programme – where children from 11 schools across the Chilterns have been be looking after young brown trout fry before releasing them into their local chalk stream, all the while learning about Chalk stream habitats and their wildlife.

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Laura Silverstone, Chilterns Chalk Stream Project

An Update from Adrian Porter, Rivers Officer, Chalk Streams & Wetland Meadows Project:

It’s been a busy few months since I started with the Chiltern Society at the end of September.
Apart from getting to know the amazing people who work here as well as some of our brilliant volunteers, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable individuals from Chilterns AONB, Chiltern Rangers and The Environment Agency, as well as local residents, landowners and volunteer groups from Chesham, Latimer, High Wycombe, Hambleden and Ewelme.

Following several visits, lots of measuring and hundreds of photographs, I have created detailed restoration plans and supporting documentation for Latimer Park Farm, all of which is about to be submitted to the Environment Agency to gain their approval for the restoration activity.

The plans for the next section of the River Wye backwater have also been completed and the supporting documentation isn’t far behind. In parallel the Environment Agency are drawing up the plans for the redesign of the weir at Beech Road and we can then approach local residents for their comments.

I hope that we’ll soon be on the lookout for volunteers for the implementation phase for both projects!

My next design project is at Chesham Moor which will also be used in a public consultation exercise prior to any formal application submission.

One of the great things about this role is being able to get out and about, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend time enjoying the landscape around both Ewelme Brook and Hamble Brook, whilst also considering how they could both be improved to benefit the local community as well as enhance the habitat for wild-flowers, wetland birds and water voles.

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