News & Events


28 September 2017
Learning about chalk streams with St Mary Bourne Primary

Vee Moore, Education Officer with the Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust visited St Mary Bourne Primary School on the 14th September to give an indoor lesson on chalk streams to the very bright Sycamore class of Year 6 pupils.
 
Just before the start of the lesson, the children and their lovely teacher Fern ran a mile in the school grounds as part of their ‘daily mile’ challenge so there was plenty of energy and enthusiasm in the classroom.
 
First, the children learnt about chalk, the white porous limestone that helps to keep the water in our chalk streams clean and cool. Vee handed out small rocks of chalk for observation and explained that each centimetre of it is a product of a thousand years of deposition.
 
Then the lesson moved on to how chalk streams were formed during the last Ice Age when gushing flows of melting ice carved these rivers into the landscape. When asked about the last Ice Age, one of the pupils guessed correctly that it occurred around 10,000 years ago.
 
It was then time to inspect a sample of invertebrates and small fish that Vee collected from the local chalk stream, The Bourne Rivulet, earlier that day. Needless to say the bullheads stole the show. Vee pointed out the many different insects that have developed unique structures and functions that enable them to live in water.  The children keenly studied the protective cases of caddisflies and the external gills of mayflies, which allow then to breath under water.
 
Before the end of the lesson, the children were asked to choose and draw one of the invertebrates or fish from the sample. The children embraced the task with gusto and produced some impressive pieces of artwork.

Children drawing invertebrates
Class drawing invertebrates towards the end of the lesson

20 September 2017
Summer/Autumn 2017 Winchester Primary Schools programme update

 WCSRT’s collaboration with Winchester College is going from strength to strength. The aim of the programme is to provide Winchester-based primary schools with an opportunity to learn about their local chalk stream, the River Itchen and the abundant fly life that inhabits its gravel-rich bed.
 
140 Year 5 and 6 pupils from St Bede Church of England Primary School took part in the programme during the summer term and a further 30 Year 5 pupils from All Saints Church of England Primary School attended the outdoor lesson this month.
 
The lessons took place on the Winchester College nature reserve, which is normally inaccessible to the public so it was a real treat to experience this beautiful stretch of the river in the centre of Winchester.
 
The larger classes were divided into smaller groups and each one had an opportunity to learn from a WCSRT employee about the basic principles of hydrology and observe a kick sampling demonstration and then help identify the fly life found in the sample.
 
WCSRT now looks forward to spring term 2018 when Stanmore Primary School will participate in this fantastic environmental education programme.

01 September 2017
Hampshire Avon DTC stakeholder meeting

The Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust is hosting the final local stakeholder meeting under the Demonstration Test Catchments programme on the 4th October 2017. The event will be held at the Red Lion Hotel, Salisbury (Milford St, Salisbury SP1 2AN) between 10am - 3:30pm (buffet lunch provided) and will provide an update on:

(i) work characterising the target sub-catchments and their pollution issues;
(ii) the economics of on-farm measures for diffuse pollution control, and;
(iii) optimising on-farm measures for controlling diffuse pollution in the Avon catchment.

All those who have been involved in the programme in the past or are HACP members or stakeholders are invited to attend. For more information email Liam on avon@wcsrt.org.uk .

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 2016
All 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 options
Using 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 .

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