We thought we would start off the New Year by having a look back at the river restoration projects that the Water Team carried out in 2017. We ran 7 main habitat improvement projects across the county as shown on the map below:

To deliver habitat improvements projects we have to go through a cycle of step to ensure successful project delivery:

The project implementation stage is when all our planning and preparation work gets delivered on the ground and in the rivers. During this stage, we install habitat features such as log deflectors and brushwood structures to alter the flow of the river and create habitat for fish and invertebrates. We do all of this by hand, and so our projects really do depend on the help we receive from volunteers. As can be seen from the table below, volunteers are invaluable to us, especially considering the fact that all of our delivery work takes place in just two months - September and October! As you can see, we improved habitat over 9.25km of river in just 55 days, with additional volunteer help estimated at a value of £14,925! 

However, these types of projects are not all that the Water Team does. We also undertake work on eradicating invasive non-native species from our rivers (see our blog on this here: https://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/blog/invasive-species-week), give advice to landowners, create ponds and much more. In fact for our biggest project this year we literally moved a section of the river channel on the River Avon at Chisenbury.

The aim of this project was to restore the river to a more natural hydromorphological condition, reconnect the river with its floodplain and improve both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The existing channel was no longer suitable to achieve all of this, and so a new channel was created in the lowest part of the floodplain following the remnants of a paleo-channel. A timelapse video of the project can be seen here: 

It is also important to note that all of our achievements would not be possible without the help and support of not just our dedicated volunteers, corporate groups and contractors, but also multiple partner organisations. Many of our projects are supported by the Wessex Chalk Streams Project team, DEFRA, Natural England, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water, the MOD, Wiltshire Fisheries Association, local Rivers Trusts, the Wild Trout Trust, local fishing and canoe clubs as well as landowners and other stakeholders and so a massive thank you goes out to all involved. 

Photo: Volunteers helping to install a structure that will protect the river bank from erosion © WWT

Looking forward, 2018 is already shaping up to be a busy and exciting period with project preparation already underway for projects in both the Hampshire and Bristol Avon catchments. 

If you think you would like to help out this year, volunteers for any of our projects are always welcome; our projects are always lots of fun, very satisfying and a great way to meet new people. Check out our latest volunteering opportunities here: https://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/practical-volunteering-with-the-water-team   

You can also keep up to date with what we have been up to by following us on Twitter @wiltsrivers

If you would like to receive our emails and updates please contact us on: [email protected] or call us on 01380 736066