Residents and wildlife groups are celebrating a major funding boost for one of England’s most important chalk streams. The River Allen Project to restore and protect the east Dorset river and its wildlife is being funded by a grant of £44,480 from Biffa Award, a multi-million pound environment fund managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts which uses landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.
The community partnership River Allen Project, led by Dorset Wildlife Trust, will restore parts of the chalk stream for the benefit of vulnerable wildlife including fish, invertebrates and water voles.
In consultation with local people and the Environment Agency, work can now begin on plans for the improvements to the river, including opening up the tree canopy to encourage the growth of key chalk stream plants and restoring the natural water flow for the benefit of fly larvae and breeding fish. Additional funding of £15,000 for the detailed plans, displays and public awareness events, has been granted by Sembcorp Bournemouth Water.
Amanda Broom, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s River Allen Project Officer, said:
“Chalk streams are the richest river habitats for wildlife and the River Allen holds the strongest population in Dorset of rare wildlife such as the native white-clawed crayfish."
Thanks to the support of the local community and funding from Biffa Award, Sembcorp Bournemouth Water and other supporters, we now have a chance to do something to protect this important and vulnerable habitat and its wildlife before it is too late.”
Cath Hare, Biffa Award Acting Programme Manager, said: “Biffa Award is keen to fund projects, which support and enhance the biodiversity of the UK. It is vital that we conserve these important chalk streams, which provides habitat for important wildlife in this country. We are delighted to be able to support the work of Dorset Wildlife Trust on the River Allen.”
Mark Burton, Water Quality Manager at Sembcorp Bournemouth Water, said: "Sembcorp Bournemouth Water is delighted to be involved in this project. Water plays a vital role in all our lives, and is equally important in the environment. This work will help protect what is a nationally important asset, at local level."
The River Allen Project aims to restore natural features that have been lost where the river has been straightened and deepened in the past.
Flow will be improved by techniques such as securing small trees along the river bank, resulting in cleaner gravels for fish spawn on, more cover for crayfish to hide and lush bankside vegetation for water voles to feed on. The enhancements will have the added benefit of reconnecting fragments of habitat so that isolated populations of crayfish, water voles and other species can expand and move freely along the river, particularly important with the increasing pressures associated with climate change.
The River Allen Project starts this winter with work to let more light onto the river at Wimborne, with further works scheduled for 2013 to avoid the breeding seasons of fish, invertebrates and birds. For more information about the River Allen and to download a free guide, visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/dorsetwildrivers.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Amanda Broom at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01202 692033.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.