The Environment Agency has welcomed a new strategy launched to protect England’s chalk streams.
Chalk streams are a rare and valuable habitat, often referred to as England’s equivalent of rainforests. It is estimated that 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England and around 10% of these are in Lincolnshire.
Most water we drink in the east comes from rainwater stored deep beneath our feet in natural chalk ‘aquifers’, which feed our chalk streams. Chalk streams also need good water quality for different species of fish, plants and insects to flourish. However they face significant challenges in the 21st century due to complex problems worsened by climate change and population growth.
One of their projects has been looking at ways to restore the River Rase. As the banks were eroding, this caused sediment to build up in the river, which was having a negative impact on the ecology.
Working with the landowner, Market Rasen Golf Club, they restored 1 kilometer of the chalk stream by installing leaky barriers and online ponds, and re-profiling banks. These measures reduced the erosion and allowed more water to flow through the system, leading to a more diverse ecology and improving the water quality. Landowners have also been given land management advice on how to protect the chalk stream, and the team have been exploring opportunities for future habitat projects.
Norm Robinson, Environment Agency area director for Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, said:
Recommendations in the strategy include enhanced status to drive investment in water resources and restoring physical habitat and biodiversity. The strategy has bought together partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England, Defra, water companies and environmental organisations.
Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd said:
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:
The report, published 15 October by the Catchment Based Approach’s Chalk Stream Restoration Group, sets out recommendations of how to enhance these precious habitats.