Announcements


20 July 2017
River Temperature Monitoring Update

Across our local chalk catchments 25 sites currently have WCSRT water temperature loggers installed through the summer months. Measurements are recorded automatically every 15 minutes and the full data are recovered each autumn and added as a new 'worksheet' within an excel file for each site. These files are free-to-download from our website as widely compatible xlsx files. At some sites information now covers six summers, while the ten lower Itchen site loggers have data for 2015 and 2016.

In summer 2017 we are experiencing low river flows and high air temperatures which will influence our rivers and wildlife. Some WCSRT loggers will be deployed throughout the coming winter months, as following a recent mild UK winter the higher than average river temperatures were blamed for low salmonid fry numbers. We aim to collect data that can be used to assess temperature impacts on developing salmon and trout eggs, both within the maturing fish resting in the lower reaches and subsequently in the river gravel adjacent to spawning areas further upstream.

Temperature highlights from 2016All sites showed temperature trends that tracked weather conditions in a similar manner through summer 2016, with subtle between-site differences. July had the normal peak river temperatures, but this reflected only a short period of warm weather in the third week of July and at most sites average monthly temperatures were actually higher in August and September (our 'Indian Summer'). Quite a contrast with preceding years when monthly maximum and average river temperatures have always been in July.

Future optionsUsing the WCSRT data anyone can explore how particular rivers zones respond to heat waves, cold snaps, different extents of tree-shading, groundwater inputs, water abstraction and discharge of treated sewage. Realistically, comparisons really need to take into account differences in downstream speed-of-travel, river depth, site distance from source and North/South river channel orientation, which all influence the daily warming and cooling patterns at each site.

As an example, some between-site river temperature relationships are shown ' here '.

02 May 2017
WCSRT New Appointments

The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of three new members of staff with effect from May 2017.

Liam Reynolds (Hampshire Avon Catchment Officer)
Liam has a BSc in Environmental and Countryside Management and just finished a masters degree in Aquatic Sciences. Liam was Catchment Officer for the Norfolk Rivers Trust and has experience in stakeholder engagement, project management and delivery. He has particular interests in salmonids, coarse fish and eels as well as water quality and soils. He has a range of habitat management experience and is a keen angler.

Ses Wright (Projects Manager)
Ses was a senior researcher at the University of East Anglia and former deputy director of MSc courses in Environmental Impact Assessment and Environment Management/ Auditing. She works on a part-time basis for both the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust and Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust. An experienced project manager, she leads delivery of river habitat, fish passage and a range of river enhancement projects.

Vee Moore (Education Officer)
Vee is a freshwater conservationist with a passion for citizen science, school and community education. She has experience as a project officer with the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust where she led educational activity, projects and training on water related work. She was formerly water policy officer with RSPB and has a masters degree in Environmental Management (Water Resources). Additionally qualified in photography and journalism, Vee brings a portfolio of skills and competencies to the role of Education Officer.

Please visit our ‘ Officers and Trustees ’ page for more information.

04 April 2017
River Avon Restoration Programme wins 2017 UK River Prize and Nigel Holmes Trophy

As a partner organisation in the River Avon Restoration Programme (RARP), the WCSRT would like to extend big congratulations to all those who helped this project achieve this year’s UK River Prize and Nigel Holmes Trophy.

RARP was set up to restore the River Avon Special Area of Conservation to a naturally functioning river system to meet the government’s obligations under the Water Framework and Habitats Directives. The River Avon was selected as the overall winner of the UK River Prize for the excellent demonstration of a whole river approach to restoration and management. The project partners were also awarded the coveted Nigel Holmes Trophy.

The Challenge
In many places the River Avon has been straightened or moved to the edge of the floodplain to work mills or water meadows and there are now some 150 weirs and sluices on the river. It has also more recently been dredged for land drainage resulting in an over-wide and deepened channel and has been embanked in places.

Restoration
A range of restoration methods has been used to restore the rivers natural processes. These include the removal, modification and bypassing of structures; re-alignment of the river through the centre of the floodplain; re-meandering the channel within its existing plan-form and much more.

The completion of Phase 1 is not the end point but a springboard for new phases of restoration using the knowledge, experience and goodwill built up over the past ten years. A further programme of work is needed on the remaining 185km of river to fully realise a more naturally functioning river catchment, able to respond and adapt to climate change.

For more information, please visit the RRC website .

March 2017
Hampshire Avon Fish Habitat Projects

The Barbel Society (BS), Environment Agency (EA) and Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust (WCSRT) are pleased to announce details of the latest habitat improvement projects completed as part of a continuing partnership, which plans to improve habitat for fish fry and other wildlife on the Hampshire Avon.

Using funding provided by the EA and BS, and technical and logistical support from WCSRT, ten log deflectors and five fry bays were constructed at a site near Fordingbridge. These will improve diversity of flow and create refuges for fish fry of all species, as well as connecting hundreds of metres of water meadow ditches to the main river. Live willow was also planted to create overhead and instream cover.

An old silted flight pond within a historic oxbow area, upstream of Ringwood, has also been enlarged and connected to the river via a ditch, creating a large backwater which will again be an important refuge for fish fry, as well as important plants, invertebrates and other wildlife.

Pete Reading, Conservation Officer for the Barbel Society said; “ We are delighted with the positive results of our continuing partnership with the EA and WCSRT, and also with local landowners, and can see huge benefits for fish and other wildlife from these restoration measures ”.

The fish surveys, carried out last summer by WCSRT, the Barbel Society and Bournemouth University of similar projects undertaken the previous year showed excellent results. There were good numbers, of a range of species, of fish fry using the bays, to take advantage of the shallower, warmer water to develop. The results demonstrate that these projects are delivering genuine improvements for fisheries and wildlife along the Avon valley.

In November 2016, WCSRT also completed a second phase of habitat improvement on the River Nadder. This was a continuation of work done in 2015 by WCSRT, Wild Trout Trust, Barford and Burcombe Angling Club and the landowner. We continued to install more woody material and hinge trees, were possible, upstream from the earlier works. The works will create more in-channel habitat for fish and invertebrates, as well as narrowing the channel and pushing the flow across the channel to recreate natural processes that have been lost in a dredged channel. The work was done in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust and the Wessex Chalk Streams Project, part of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Volunteers helped build the structures in the channel, whilst contractors felled the trees and supervised the volunteers. There are further works planned upstream to continue the improvements this year.

Funding for these works has been and is available from the Environment Agency’s ‘Fisheries Improvement Programme’ which is directly funded by rod licence holders through the purchase of their EA rod licence. We would urge clubs or groups with any similar projects in mind to get in touch with Liam Reynolds, WCSRT’s new Avon Catchment Officer: avon@wcsrt.org.uk .

12 September 2016
River Test Habitat Workshop

The WCSRT recently teamed-up with the Wild Trout Trust and Test & Itchen Association to hold a habitat workshop near Whitchurch on the River Test. Mike Blackmore and Shaun Leonard of the Wild Trout Trust helped share their expertise through a series of practical demonstrations, which were part of a wider programme of works being carried out by riparian owner and host for the day, Richard Maitland.

The workshop, attended by seventeen people including many full-time Test keepers, demonstrated a range of simple, natural habitat improvement techniques. The mighty band of volunteers ate through the work, putting eleven large habitat features into a 200m river reach, including hinged-in trees, brushwood berms and a number of big log deflectors, created from huge sycamores and alders. Mike withstood the pressure of an audience of professional river keepers as he dropped both trees right onto the necessary (and pretty tight) spots.

September 2016
Follow-on to the Hampshire Gravel Cleaning Programme

The WCSRT was able to help riparian owners and fisheries again this autumn with gravel cleaning and was pleased to hear reports of healthy numbers of redds later in the year.

The Environment Agency’s Hampshire Gravel Cleaning Programme, carried out between 1996 and 2013, was based on research by CFAS, which showed significantly increased survival rates of salmon eggs at cleaned sites. Whilst this remains, we were intrigued to hear Dr Cyril Bennett talking at the Test & Itchen Association’s members day in November 2016 about his research showing the recovery of invertebrate populations, to elevated levels, on recently cleaned gravels. Clearly, both of these examples emphasise the need to tackle sediment pollution at source but also indicate that appropriately targeted cleaning of gravels can improve egg survival and enhance invertebrate populations.

Any owners interested in undertaking gravel cleaning in autumn 2017 are welcome to contact us for help or to borrow kits.

28 September 2015
Zam Baring's Giant Bike Ride

Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust Trustee, Zam Baring, is taking to the road on two wheels next week to help raise money for the WCSRT. On Sunday 4th October, Zam will be cycling a gruelling 113 miles from London to Bath and all of us here of the Trust would like to wish him the very best of luck! If you would like to show your support you can sponsor Zam's giant bike ride by visiting Virgin Money Giving at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ZamBaring

16 July 2015
Freefall for WCSRT

The WCSRT would like to wish Bryan Gordon-Smith many congratulations after last month succesfully completing his 15,000ft jump from a perfectly functional aeroplane in order to help raise over £2,000 for the Trust! We would also like to say a huge thank you to Bryan for choosing to support the work of the WCSRT and, of course, to all those who have generously donated at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/

08 May 2015
Match the Hatch App

Long time friends of the trust Dr. Cyril Bennett MBE and Salisbury & District AC member Kevin Adams have developed a unique fly fishing app to help you match the fly hatch on all rivers in the UK. Match A Hatch App (available for £2.99 on both Apple and Android devices) will tell you what fly you're seeing hatch on the river and suggest the correct artificial. Touch the fly that looks closest to the one you see on the river, then slide the image over to revealinformation about the fly and the correct artificial to use to hopefully improve your catch rate! Manipulate the image with your fingers to get maximum close ups of the stunning images taken by Cyril of live flies.

27 April 2015
Temperature characteristics of the upper Anton

TARCA (The Anton River Conservation Association) are monitoring river temperature around Andover in collaboration with WCSRT.Three loggers were installed in autumn 2013 and severe floods gave rise to anxiety over their fate. Two loggers were recovered successfully in spring 2014 and the third was lost for a while but re-discovered in summer 2014. All loggers operated satisfactorily. In spring 2015 they will be re-set at the same sites to compare localised differences in river temperature during the summer.

As in other local chalk streams, the river temperature is expected to reflect some influences of groundwater input which naturally declines through the drier summer months. The upper Anton temperature regime is also expected to be modified by urban development, tree-shading and lake impoundment. This is one example of local enthusiasts ( http://www.antonriver-conservation.org.uk/ ) informing future river management decisions against a backdrop of climate change stress to our native wildlife and key habitats.

March 2015

Trout Release Day with Anton Juniors

The WCSRT teamed up with Test Valley Borough Council and TARCA this spring to hold a Trout in Schools ‘release day’ on the Anton.

The pupils, who hatched and cared for the trout in their classroom at Anton Juniors, spent the afternoon at Rooksbury Mill where they had a chance to learn more about the river from the rangers and volunteers who look after the Anton. All of the 64 pupils also got to bid farewell to a handful of their trout fry and release them into the river.

21 August 2014
WCSRT New Director Announcement

The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Paul Jose as full time Director with effect from October 2014.

Paul brings to the Trust a strong academic background in river and floodplain management and 25 years of experience in delivering water-related environmental projects, having held senior management roles in the public and charitable sectors.

The Trust will continue its important work on the development of catchment plans for the Test & Itchen and Hampshire Avon catchments, as well as its many in-river projects. Paul will focus on the successful delivery of the Trust’s substantial existing workload as well as its future development.Trust Chairman, George Seligman, said: " I am delighted to welcome Paul Jose as Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust’s new full time Director and I look forward to expanding the Trust’s activities with him. Our current Director, Tom Davis, will be standing down. Tom has directed the Trust on a part-time basis from its inception to now, and has built an excellent foundation for its future development. We are very grateful for all he has done for the Trust. He leaves with our best wishes for the future ".

Dr Paul Jose said: " I am delighted to accept the role of Director with the Trust. I am looking forward to working with our partners and excellent team to build on the firm foundations put in place by Tom ".

Notes for editors:
The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust is a charity dedicated to the guardianship, protection, enhancement and maintenance of healthy, functioning ecosystems within the river catchments and corridors of the Wessex region, spanning water bodies in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. The Trust’s vision is of healthy rivers within the Wessex region which are valued and nurtured by the community and which exhibit:

  • High water quality and sustained natural flows
  • Sustainable and naturally abundant wildlife
  • Fully functioning ecosystems which link the rivers with their valleys
  • Resilience to climate change and future stresses associated with social and economic development

24 July 2014
Test & Itchen River Restoration Strategy

The Test and Itchen River Restoration Strategy is a collaborative project between the Environment Agency, Natural England, local fisheries and riparian owners. The aim of the Strategy is to collaboratively work with landowners to restore both rivers so that they reach favourable condition in the future. Presently the SSSI status of the Test and Itchen is in unfavourable condition. This is due to historic dredging, the number of structures, industry and historic management. To date approximately 2km of river has been improved, under the Restoration Strategy, by bed raising, narrowing and encouraging a change in management.

The Management Report for the strategy has recently been published and can be downloaded by clicking here . There is also a Technical Report and maps that are availbale on request to WCSRT or the Environment Agency.

If you would like to talk to us about the Strategy and opportunities for riparian owners to get involved with restoration works or changes in management practices, then please contact our Catchment Officer for the Test & Itchen, Rupert Kelton: rupert.kelton@wcsrt.org.uk

Alternatively, you can contact Heb Leman, at the Environment Agency: heb.leman@environment-agency.gov.uk

16 May 2014
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation awards the Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust £35,500 for first year of river catchment invertebrate fingerprinting project

The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust (WCSRT) is delighted to announce the award of significant funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for 2014 in support of our pioneering work on river catchment improvement. The rivers to benefit in the first year are the Hampshire Avon, the Test and the Itchen. The fingerprinting research is focused on insects and other aquatic animals that live on the river-bed and react characteristically to particular types of water quality pollution and habitat damage.

The first phase of the work includes analyses of long-term Environment Agency (EA) river quality sampling information centred on numbers and types of aquatic invertebrates.

Phase Two includes river catchment mapping and the targeted collection of new invertebrate samples which will be analysed in greater detail to provide current fingerprints of river water quality. Once pollution ‘hotspots’ are identified, our work switches to pinpointing causes and developing ways of mitigating the contamination.

WCSRT intend this project to continue indefinitely and will be seeking further funding after the first year to enable analysis of the existing data on the Dorset Stour and the River Meon invertebrate populations, as well as ongoing annual or bi-annual sampling across all our rivers.

The WCSRT Chairman, George Seligman, said: “ This generous support from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation enables the WCSRT finally to develop a comprehensive and ongoing picture of the state of the water flowing through our rivers. The chalk streams of southern England, among the rarest freshwater habitats on earth, are under severe pressure from sediment and chemical pollution and this project will allow the Trust to identify and work to mitigate the worst sources of that pollution.

WCSRT is well placed to deliver such solutions as it is the lead partner in the Hampshire Avon Catchment Partnership, joint-lead, with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, on the Test and Itchen Catchment Partnership and a steering group member in the Dorset Stour Catchment Partnership. Through these extensive links with river catchment owners, managers and user groups, the Trust is able to develop cost-effective projects which tackle problems to deliver positive outcomes for our rivers and for the wildlife and people which depend upon them. For more information please contact Nick Giles, Project Development Officer, Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust by email: nick.giles@wcsrt.org.uk

04 December 2013
The Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust join forces in securing the future protection and improvement of the Test and Itchen Rivers

The Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have jointly been awarded the lead roles in the Test and Itchen Catchment Partnership, with the aim of delivering much needed improvements to the aquatic and wildlife habitat of these two iconic chalk rivers. The Catchment Partnership scheme, designed by DEFRA, seeks to secure much greater involvement of non-government organisations, land owners, private sector businesses and other river interest groups in prioritising and implementing improvements to the nation’s rivers. Throughout the country, it will see people working in partnership to tackle the full range of issues affecting our rivers, such as combatting low flows, restoring or re-naturalising river channels, controlling invasive species which threaten our native wildlife, and reducing the inputs of pollutants which impact our groundwaters, rivers and seas. And it’s not only wildlife which will benefit – the water that we abstract for drinking will be cleaner, and the rivers and coastlines that are important for recreation and tourism will be in better condition.

The co-hosting arrangement between the two trusts reflects their common concerns about the deterioration of our rivers, coastal waters and wetlands, and shared aspirations for addressing them. “ The combined skills and experience of the two organisations will be a significant asset in guiding the partnership ” said Dave Rumble, the Wildlife Trust’s Strategic Head of Conservation.

While the main targets for improvement are the river channels and corridors, the focus of attention will be very much across the river catchments as a whole, since drainage from the land and waste water discharged from man’s activities have a significant influence on water quality and the overall health of the rivers. “ Diffuse pollution, particularly in rural areas, is probably the biggest environmental challenge for us ” said Tom Davis, Director of the Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust.

Two Catchment Officers have already been appointed to facilitate and manage the work of the partnership. Their first objective will be to identify priority areas and activities with the help of partners and stakeholders, and to work collaboratively with those partners to begin to deliver improvements across the two river systems.

The scheme is actively supported by the Environment Agency who will provide access to technical expertise and data needed to prioritise and deliver improvements. Simon Moody, the Environment Agency’s Solent and South Downs Area Environment Manager said “The Catchment Partnership will play a key role in helping us to realise a healthy and thriving environment in the Test and Itchen Catchment, through delivering both legislative objectives and wider community benefit. We have appointed a Catchment Coordinator internally to help support the partnership in their work.” The Rivers Trusts and Wildlife Trusts have an excellent track record of engaging with land owners, angling organisations and other river interest groups in ways which the EA as a government authority and regulator can find difficult to achieve.

An inaugural meeting of stakeholders will be held on 5th December at Sparsholt College, to outline plans for the Catchment Partnership and secure the support of land owners and other groups with an interest in the protection and improvement of the two rivers.

The Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust is a charity dedicated to the protection of the rivers of the southern chalkstream region from the Dorset Stour in the west to the Meon in the east. It is part of the nationwide Rivers Trust movement. Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, part of a UK-wide partnership of 47 Wildlife Trusts, is the leading nature conservation charity in the two counties. For more than 50 years, it has protected local wildlife, and has a strong history of working in partnership with landowners and others to enhance wildlife habitats in the two river valleys.

For further information please contact the WCSRT Director, Tom Davis on 01794 341874 Director@wcsrt.urg.uk , or HIWWT’s Strategic Head of Conservation, Dave Rumble on 01489 774433 David.Rumble@hiwwt.org.uk .

03 December 2013
The Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust is to play a key role in the future protection and improvement of the Hampshire Avon and its tributaries.

The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust has been awarded the lead role in establishing and running the Hampshire Avon Catchment Partnership under a nationwide scheme to improve the ecological quality of our rivers. The scheme, designed by DEFRA, seeks to secure much greater involvement of non-government organisations, land owners, private sector businesses and other river interest groups in prioritising and implementing improvement to the Avon Catchment.

While the main targets for improvement are the river channels and corridors, the focus of attention will be very much across the river basin as a whole, since drainage from the land and waste water discharged from man’s activities have a significant influence on river water quality and the health of the rivers. “This is one of the key environmental challenges for the southern chalkstreams” said Trust Director, Tom Davis.

The scheme has the full support of the Environment Agency who will work closely with the Trust and its partners providing access to technical expertise and data needed to prioritise and deliver improvements. Jim Flory, the Environment Agency’s regional Environment Manager for the Wessex Area said “We are really keen to support this new partnership which we see as a major element in assisting us to deliver our objectives, and those of Natural England, under the Water Framework Directive and other European and UK legislation, to improve the Hampshire Avon and its tributaries The rivers trusts have an excellent track record of engagement with land owners, angling organizations and other river interest groups in ways which we as a government authority and regulator can find difficult to achieve”.

Chairman of The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust, George Seligman, said “This initiative provides the Trust and its partners with a fabulous opportunity to build on recent successes in the Hampshire Avon basin, which have included a major restoration project on the lower river downstream of Ringwood, improvements to salmon parr habitat on the Wylye and Nadder and in bringing an end to salmon and sea trout netting in Christchurch Harbour last year”. An inaugural meeting of core partners is scheduled for November.

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