HomeAbout the Chilterns > Chalk Streams > Conservation


Chalk streams are a naturally rich habitat, capable of supporting many different plants and animals. However, most of our streams have been affected by human activity at some time, and this can result in damage to the streams and their wildlife. Here are just some of issues facing our streams and the solutions being developed:

Low flows

Cause and effect

Low flows can be caused by natural drought conditions. However, if we abstract (pump out) too much water from the aquifer, this can also cause reduced flows and even result in rivers drying up.


Special schemes are being developed and implemented by the Environment Agency and water companies to reduce abstraction near rivers that are affected by low flows.


Cause and effect

Pollution can come from many different sources, such as industry, agriculture and roads. It is damaging to many plants and animals.


The Environment Agency regularly monitors water quality and regulates discharges from industry. Farmers are being encouraged to reduce applications of chemicals on land near rivers and to create buffer strips to stop them entering the river.

Loss of good habitat

Cause and effect

River habitats can be lost or damaged through urban development and some farming practices.


Many organisations are working to try to ensure that urban developments near rivers do not damage river habitats. The Chalk Streams Project is working in partnership with farmers in the AONB to protect our streams and their wildlife. Degraded habitat can be restored to make it suitable for wildlife again.

Introduced and invasive species

Cause and effect

Introduced plants and animals can sometimes pose a threat to native species by out-competing them or spreading disease.


Where necessary, introduced species are controlled to protect native wildlife.

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