River Bulbourne restoration project makes waves nationally

Volunteers creating new habitats in the river with woody debris as part of the River Bulbourne restoration project
Volunteers creating new habitats in the river with woody debris as part of the River Bulbourne restoration project

A project to restore a one kilometre stretch of the River Bulbourne has won a national award for its ‘ingenuity’ and ‘imagination’.

The result of a partnership between The Box Moor Trust and the Environment Agency, the ‘Bringing Back The Bulbourne’ scheme transformed a section of the river from a straight, wide and silty river into a meandering chalk stream, which is a globally rare habitat.

The £60,000 project has breathed new life into the river. The natural meander has now been restored, creating new habitats for plants and wildlife. Removing a weir has allowed fish to move along the river, while cutting back trees has allowed more light to reach the water.

And volunteers have installed woody habitat features along the channel which create refuge areas for fish and other wildlife.

The project scooped the ‘best medium scale’ award at The Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards held at the Savile Club in London on October 17. The awards recognise and encourage excellence in habitat management and conservation and celebrate effort, ingenuity and imagination.

Nancy Baume, from the Environment Agency, said: “We are delighted that our work to restore the River Bulbourne has been recognised. This project represents years of hard work for us and our partners.

“The Environment Agency is committed to working with partners to protect and restore our chalk streams for the benefit of wildlife so future generations are able to enjoy these unique resources.”

Chalk streams are a very rare habitat globally, with more than 85 per cent of all the chalk streams in the world found in England.

David Kirk, chairman of The Box Moor Trust, said: “We would like to thank all of those involved at the Environment Agency, in particular Nancy Baume and Jack Herriot, for all of their hard work and dedication over the last few years.

“The Trust would also like to thank Allen Beechey of the Chilterns Chalk Stream Project for his help and our dedicated team of volunteers whose tireless work has been integral to the success of the project.”

The project has been designed to incorporate natural flood management techniques, and the final phase of the project, to create wetland scrapes, will take place later this year.