above: DWT staff and volunteers clearing weed on the Gussage Stream © Sally Welbourn
below: Bournemouth Water volunteers clearing weed on the Gussage stream © Sally Welbourn, The Gussage Stream © Sally Welbourn
Volunteers improve the Gussage Stream
A group of 120 volunteers and staff from Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and Bournemouth Water put in 600 hours of work to clear the Gussage Stream near Wimborne of 2km (1.5miles) of weed and vegetation to support rare and threatened wildlife, such as otters and white-clawed crayfish.
The work also complements the Environment Agency and Bournemouth Water's work with how they manage flows in the future, and explores innovative ways of managing the Gussage Stream in partnership with others and in a wildlife friendly manner. This was the first year ‘man-power’ has been used to clear the stream, whereas in previous years the work was done by machinery, such as an excavator, to remove the excess growth with a long reach bucket.
DWT Rivers Conservation Officer, Amanda Broom, said, “Using machinery to clear the weeds in the stream isn’t the most sensitive method for wildlife, so we are delighted that in partnership with the Environment Agency and with the help of DWT and Bournemouth Water volunteers, we have been able to cut the weed by hand. Whilst some of the weed is essential for invertebrates and fish, too much can change oxygen levels in the water, causing stress and even fatalities to fish. The Gussage stream is a tributary of the River Allen which is a rare chalk stream, so it is essential that we look after this precious habitat.”
Bournemouth Water volunteer, Mike Vicars, said, “I live locally and I’m interested in wildlife, so it’s great not only to help nature, but also get outside in the fresh air. It’s definitely hard work, but very rewarding!”
"This is a super example of us all working together to achieve common aims".
Richard Battersby of the Environment Agency said: “This is a super example of us all working together to achieve common aims and protect not only the environment, but important chalk stream habitat as well. It would be fantastic if we could continue this way of working in the future with such enthusiastic volunteers”.
Bournemouth Water has been a long term supporter of DWT’s River Allen project, generously donating annually to conservation work.
To find out more about river conservation work in Dorset, click here.