River Whitewater Habitat Improvements for Rivers Week
Environment Agency staff, the Wild Trout Trust and other willing volunteers are combining to put in some hard graft to improve the ecology and habitats in the River Whitewater as part of the annual Rivers Week.
Volunteers will come together on the banks of the River Whitewater in Potbridge, Hampshire next Tuesday (19 March) as part of a joint initiative between the Environment Agency, Wild Trout Trust, Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust aimed at improving river ecology.
Rivers Week – launched last year – aims to attract those with a shared interest in the good health of their local rivers to spend a day helping to improving habitats.
Teams of volunteers, led by experts, will carry out a variety of tasks including creating and maintaining fish spawning grounds, installing woody debris to change river morphology and encourage pools and removing the overhead tree canopy to allow sunlight into the channel and encourage weed growth.
Matt Drew, Fisheries Officer for the Environment Agency, said:
“The main aim of Rivers Week is not to get as much work done as possible, but to inspire people. We aim to explain to people why we do this work, how we do it and how it improves the rivers. It’s also about showing how a lot can be achieved for a very small financial output.
We want to inspire the local community to care for their environment, while at the same time accelerating habitat improvements by working with natural processes to improve the river’s ecological status.”
Last year, over 70 volunteers helped to improve 30 habitats on the Blackwater, Loddon and Whitewater rivers. Eight teams accomplished a variety of habitat improvements during Rivers Week 2012 including cleaning spawning grounds and improving habitat complexity by installing various refuge materials for fish and wildlife. The teams also helped fish passage at Arborfield by slowing water through the channel exit to facilitate upstream movement.
As well as improving the river ecology for the local community and wildlife, the work carried out during Rivers Week also delivers vital Water Framework Directive (WFD) actions.
The WFD is designed to protect and enhance all elements of the water cycle including groundwaters, rivers, lakes, estuaries and seas. It also aims to reduce pollution of water courses and promote the sustainable use of water.
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