Wessex Rivers Trust repairs public access spot on the banks of the Test

THE last of the volunteers have left Chilbolton Common following the completion of an ambitious restoration project.

Chilbolton Common, a site on the banks of the river Test in Hampshire, has two SSSI designations (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and is one
of only a few places on the Test where the public can access
the river.

There had been significant damage to the river banks causing the river to become over wide and slow, reducing the diversity and quality of habitat for fish and fauna.
Wessex Rivers Trust, with the help of a small army of volunteers and students from Sparsholt College, installed berms at strategic points along the river margins.
These bundled hazel berms will increase the sinuosity and diversity of flow of the river and narrow the channel in overly wide areas, making the river more resilient to low flows.
They will provide a much more varied habitat, increasing the likelihood for growth of characteristic chalk stream plants; as well as creating emergent margins, providing cover for adult and juvenile fish and improving habitat for invertebrate species.

The project would not have been as successful without the hard work of the volunteers and students who gave their time. Volunteer, Martin Miles, said of his involvement: “I care deeply about the state of the aquatic environment and especially our wonderful chalk streams.
“It gave me an opportunity to help restore a piece of chalk stream into a more natural state.
“I thoroughly enjoyed building the berms and quickly seeing how the river started to repair itself, including seeing how quickly the trout and grayling moved into the newly created habitat.
“It was also an opportunity to meet and work with other like-minded people who have the same passionate interest in the environment.
“It was hard physical work, but thoroughly enjoyable and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to others”.

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