Conserving chalk streams

KSCP’s WORK TO CONSERVE RARE RIVERS

Because chalk streams are globally rare habitats, they are a major focus of work for KSCP. Together with partner organisations, we are working in many ways to protect and restore them, monitor their ecology, and get communities involved in looking after these rare rivers. Here are just some of the ways in which we are helping chalk streams.

RIVER RESTORATION PROJECTS

River restoration is basically the process of returning a modified river back to something closer to its natural state. We have delivered river restoration on many rivers in our catchment, including chalk streams. This involves physical works on the river, including:

Channel reprofiling – moving material in the river bed to change its shape and make it more natural.

Digger working in river to create berm and pool
Reshaping the Little Stour

Removing bad structures – removing or modifying weirs and other structures so that they don’t obstruct the movement of fish and disrupt natural flow.

Weir in Little Stour at Seaton
Weir before modification


After

Adding good structures – putting structures made from natural materials into the river can make the flow of water more varied and kick-start natural processes.

gravel berm and pool installed, improving river natural habitat
A ‘berm’ made from natural stone and gravel

Woody debris – fixing natural woody material in place in the water, to provide habitat and shelter for wildlife and make flow more varied.

woody debris -long tree trunk to improve flow rate in river Stour
Log fixed at side of river

Bank works – making hard surface banks more natural; reinforcing eroding banks with natural materials; narrowing overly wide channels; creating bays; excluding livestock that damages banks with fencing.

volunteer in waders sawing down stakes by riverbank
Natural materials being used to make river bank more natural

See examples of our river restoration work on chalk streams:

Little Stour at Seaton near Littlebourne

Great Stour at Godmersham and Milton

Great Stour in Canterbury

EAST KENT CATCHMENT IMPROVEMENT PARTNERSHIP (EKCIP)

KSCP are at the forefront of this partnership of organisations working together to improve rivers and the water environment generally. We don’t focus only on chalk streams, but they are a high priority in the partnership’s strategy, and many of the actions we take will benefit all rivers, including chalk streams.

The partnership is made up of government bodies, local authorities, and water companies and is chaired by KSCP. The aim of the EKCIP is to improve the local water environment so that there are multiple benefits for society. These include:

  • Increased wildlife habitat
  • Safeguarding of water resources (surface and ground water)
  • Reduced flood risk
  • More sustainable farming and water-based economic activity such as tourism
  • Improved recreation opportunities (access, fishing, boating)
  • Cleaner bathing beaches and shellfish areas
  • Better resilience to climate change

Find out more about the EKCIP

Download the East Kent Catchment Improvement Plan Summary (Word doc)

OUR STOUR

Our Stour is a community project all about enjoying and improving all the rivers and streams of the Stour Valley. The project is bringing real benefits for local people, river environments, and wildlife in the Stour Catchment.

Our Stour volunteers are getting involved in hands-on improvements to river habitats, monitoring riverside land and citizen science surveys. There are opportunities for training towards new skills, and educational activities for schools and community groups.

Find out more about Our Stour

LITTLE STOUR AND WINGHAM RIVER PROJECT

This project is focused on these two chalk streams, which are closely linked because the Wingham River is a tributary of the Little Stour. It encompasses a broad range of activities, many of which involve local communities. We have been getting schools and community groups involved in ‘citizen science’ activities, monitoring water quality in these rivers, looking at the effects of past river restoration projects in the Seaton area. This includes regular riverfly surveys carried out by volunteers. We have also been delivering walkover surveys of the rivers and producing reports. We hope this work will pave the way for more river restoration projects to improve wildlife habitat and bring other benefits to these special waterways.

Looking at aquatic insects using a plastic tray and tea spoon
Volunteers learning about riverflies

The project is being funded by the Environment Agency, and we are collaborating with South East Rivers Trust.

We are currently recruiting volunteers to take part. To get involved, email kentishstour@kent.gov.uk

Whitehall Dyke

This stream makes a journey from the Blean woods to the Great Stour west of Canterbury. On the way, it flows through many landholdings, including orchards, farmland and gardens. In some areas it suffers from a range of problems, including the loss of bankside vegetation, pollution from artificial fertilisers, man-made dams and weirs, invasive plants and diversion to feed ponds. We are working with landholders along the stream to make improvements, offering help and advice and encouraging them to leave field margins alongside the stream, remove structures and control invasive plants.

dam on whitehall stream
Small dam in the Whitehall Dyke

 

 

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