The River Avon is renowned as one of the world’s ecologically rare chalk rivers, but river modification has reduced the diversity of habitats and widlife. This project is dedicated to restoring the River Avon.
Why does the Hampshire Avon need restoring?
The River Avon is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) from its headwaters in the Pewsey Vale to Christchurch Harbour. The Lower Avon Valley also holds Special Protection Area (SPA) status for the breeding wader and over-wintering bird habitats it supports. The catchment comprises 450km of SSSI river from five main tributaries - the Wylye, Nadder, Bourne, Till and Dockens Water.
The River Avon is recognised for its special ecological value, but its channel form and structure have been heavily modified for a variety of different reasons. These include:
• flood defence
• land drainage
• supply of water to mills and water meadows
• management for fishery and agricultural purposes
The heavy modification of the River Avon has reduced the SSSI’s ability to support wildlife and is classified as being in 'unfavourable condition'. This project will tackle the physical attributes of the unfavourable condition of the river. This follows on from the River Avon Water Level Management Plan (WLMP), which tackled ecological issues affected by unfavourable water levels on the river.
Strategic restoration of the River Avon
In 2009 the Strategic Framework for the Restoration of the River Avon (SFfRRA) was developed in partnership with Natural England, Wessex Water, the Wiltshire Fisheries Association and the Wessex Chalk Streams Project. The SFfRRA is the guide for the restoration of the Hampshire Avon and has identified options for restoration.
The Strategic Restoration of the River Avon (SRRA) was put in place by the SFfRRA, with the ultimate goal of moving towards a more naturally-functioning system that is able to adjust and respond to changes without constant management.
How can I find out more?