The Dorset Wild Rivers Project

Dorset Wild Rivers Project

© Jacob Dew

Dorset Wild Rivers is a major river and wetland restoration project, led by Dorset Wildlife Trust and Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW) focussing on the Frome and Piddle Valleys and the chalk stream tributaries of the Rivers Stour, Allen, Tarrant and the South Winterbournes. With funding from Wessex Water the Dorset Wild Rivers partnership has worked closely with landowners, fishing and community groups to restore rivers for the benefit of all wildlife, reduce agricultural run-off and create wetland habitats in the floodplains.

Poole Harbour Catchment Initiative (PHCI) and Stour Catchment Initiative (SCI)

Working in partnership with Wessex Water and a number of partner organisations, Dorset Wildlife Trust is implementing improvements to protect and improve the health of the water environment in all rivers, streams, wetlands and ground waters that drain the Stour and Poole Harbour Catchments. Importantly, the PHCI and SCI initiatives also relate to all the land within the catchment that has an impact on the natural water cycle. To achieve this, the groups have worked to clearly identify the catchment issues, agree sustainable solutions and are developing a practical Action Plan that can be delivered by stakeholders in a co-ordinated way.

You can find out more information about these initiatives at the websites below:

Dorset Wild Rivers Project video

Thank you to Wessex Water for the use of this film above.

The film below has been kindly made for Dorset Wildlife Trust by world-renowned wildlife cameraman and filmmaker, Hugh Miles, and tells the fascinating story of the River Allen, a typical Dorset chalk stream. 

You can also watch the One Show's feature of Dorset Otters on our YouTube Channel and a short film below by acclaimed Dorset film maker Hugh Miles highlights the threats to chalk streams such as those found in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire ‘our rivers in Crisis’.

The Salmon & Trout Association has submitted a formal legal complaint to the European Commission about the U.K.’s failure to protect English chalk streams, particularly the Hampshire Avon, as it is required to do under the EU Habitats Directive. 

How you can help

Disease and invasive species often plague the natural wildlife of our rivers and recent outbreaks of crayfish plague and the increase prevalence of Himalayan Balsam have caused concern. You can help prevent the spread of disease and Non Native Invasive Species from spreading by following the Check, Clean Dry guidelines when visiting or using your local rivers and wetlands

Dorset River fly Monitoring Scheme - Anglers are natural guardians of the river environment and are ideally placed to monitor the health of the rivers they fish. The Riverfly Partnership spearheads an initiative to allow individuals, or groups, with an interest in their local river to take action that will help conserve the river environment. Dorset Wildlife Trust is a local Hub for the Riverfly Partnership and holds annual training events to teach the methodology of using invertebrates and riverflies to monitor the water environment. For more information or to get involved contact   

Water Saving Tips - We all need to think about using less water as every drop we use means less for the natural environment. Dorset has natural hidden underground water stores or 'aquifers' in the chalk that feed our rivers. These act like sponges, soaking up water over a long period and then feeding Dorset’s rivers, but they suffer in years of low rainfall which can affect the wildlife that depends on our river systems. Want to save water to reduce the pressures on our chalk streams? Wessex Water customers can order a free water saving pack here and Bournemouth Water have some great water saving tips here.

Volunteering - for more information on how you can help Dorset's rivers and the other wildlife on our reserves across Dorset, see our Volunteering page for more information.


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