April 14, 2024

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Revitalising the Hamble Brook – GOV.UK

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For the first time in more than 140 years, Buckinghamshire’s Hamble Brook has a large new wetland site, encompassing over 2,500 square metres of new wildlife habitat, thanks to the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project. The project has also re-naturalised over 1km of the Hamble Brook, over 16% of its length, taking in two former swimming sites, two ponds and 150 metres of connecting channel.

The project has reinstated natural wiggles in the channel, created new backwaters, removed embankments, and planted trees to help with temperature control; this has helped restore the natural character of the stream and better connect it to its landscape. Wetlands and meanders provide refuges for threatened native plants, insects, fish and mammals.

With three landowners on board, support from the National Trust, and funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund administered by the Environment Agency, the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project has formed an effective partnership to create the wetlands and bring about the improvements to the brook.

Project partners Adrian Porter, rivers officer at the Chilterns National Landscape, and Pippa Tucker, catchment coordinator at the Environment Agency, recently visited the new wetland to see how it is progressing, along with Elaine King, chief executive officer of the Chilterns National Landscape.

Adrian Porter said:

“Working with the natural undulations of the landscape, we created lowered areas which will be wetter for longer, providing a valuable habitat for plants, birds, insects and small mammals.”

Pippa Tucker said:

“The wetland areas provide refuges during the main channel’s temporary dry phases in the summer months. While in wetter times, they also help absorb floodwater.”

Elaine King said:

“Chalk streams are globally rare and fragile habitats that require sensitive management. We were delighted to be able to carry out this important piece of work and it’s fantastic to see the site already showing significant promise.

“It’s a great example of what can be achieved through a successful partnership, and we hope this will pave the way for similar restoration projects along the brook and throughout the wider Chilterns landscape.”

© Hedley Thorne & The Chilterns Chalk Stream Project

The Hamble Brook is an especially rare type of chalk stream that only flows periodically – a winterbourne. Sometimes dry along its entire length, it is currently benefitting from high groundwater and is flowing from just below Turville to Mill End where it joins the Thames at Hambleden Lock.

Although many of us think of the countryside as a natural landscape, in fact it has been very much shaped by the actions of people over centuries, and the Hamble Brook is no exception. Its natural function and ecology has suffered the ill effects of, for example, channel straightening and agricultural pollution.

Several more landowners have expressed an interest in restoring their parts of the brook, which could bring a further 2km into the project.


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