Friday 27 January 2017
The Environment Agency, the Box Moor Trust and the Chilterns Chalk Stream Project are just putting the finishing touches to the latest phase of a project to restore 1 kilometre of the R. Bulbourne at Box Moor near Hemel Hempstead.
The objective of the Project, originally proposed by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project in 2010, was to restore the Bulbourne between the Grand Union Canal and Two Waters Road back to a more natural chalk stream, create new wetland habitat and enhance the river corridor for people and wildlife. Chalk streams are a globally rare habitat and support a massive range of plants and animals. They are home to some of our most threatened plants and animals, such as the water vole and brown trout.
The River Bulbourne at Box Moor has been extensively modified by man for a variety of purposes over the last 250 years, which has led to it becoming degraded and unable to support the diversity of wildlife typically found in chalk streams. In addition, unrestricted grazing of the banks has contributed to erosion and left little in the way of marginal vegetation which is so important for the health of the river.
This the latest and largest phase of the Project, funded and managed by the Environment Agency and carried out by Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, involved creating a narrower, more sinuous channel using locally sourced material to create a new course within the existing channel and re-grading the banks in behind the new bank edges, reconnecting the river with its floodplain. In addition, a number of features such as back waters to create refuges for fish, areas of wetland alongside the river and a kingfisher nest bank. The work also involved repairing fords and creating access points for the public.
This part of the project builds on previous phases of work that have seen habitat improvement by Box Moor Trust volunteers and the removal of a weir, last March, that was blocking fish movement.
Although the majority of the Project has now been completed further work will be carried out later this year to create further wetland features and to fence the river bank to protect the restored channel and allow marginal wetland habitat to flourish.