Our globally-rare chalk streams sparkle their way through the county and down to the coast at Christchurch, their gin-clear waters brimming with wild trout and salmon.

The River Avon and its tributaries the Wylye, Nadder, Till, Bourne and Ebble offer anglers incomparable fly fishing and nature lovers the opportunity to spot European otters and Water voles if they are very lucky, and to enjoy the rich birdlife and wild flowers.

One of Europe’s finest chalk streams, the River Avon is a unique and fragile habitat and is so special that it is protected by a string of international designations. It is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and because the river and its tributaries are recognised as some of the best in Europe they are protected as a Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic salmon, Brook and Sea lamprey, Bullhead, Desmoulin’s whorl snail and typical chalk river plants, including Water crowfoot.

Through the ages the chalk stream has been badly damaged by dredging and draining and now our Wessex Chalk Streams Project (WCSP) is trying to restore whole sections of it to a more natural state for the benefit of wildlife and people.  Working with volunteers and specialist contractors, the WCSP has improved habitat for birds, fish, invertebrates and freshwater mammals, through a number of large and small scale projects.

The WCSP also provides expert advice to fishing clubs, river keepers and riparian landowners to encourage best practice in river management.

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities.