Chalk Streams Project wins national award

Tuesday 23 July 2013

A project which conserves and promotes the chalk streams of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has received a national award.

The Chilterns Conservation Board has received the Bowland Award on behalf of the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project which has been running for 16 years, one of the longest-running chalk rivers conservation projects in the country.

The prestigious Bowland Award is given every year by the National Association for AONBs to the project which has done most to demonstrate how Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be cared for.

Chalk streams are globally rare, being found only in north west Europe and England in particular. They are also a characteristic and attractive feature of the Chilterns AONB. The streams of the Chilterns are however, amongst the most threatened of all chalk streams, suffering from pollution, habitat degradation and low flows. 

The Chilterns Chalk Streams Project was set up by the Board in 1997. At that time most of the streams in the Chilterns had dried up following a series of dry years and because too much water was being abstracted from the aquifer beneath the Chilterns for public water supply. Since then the Project has done a huge amount of work on local rivers, including the Misbourne, Chess, Gade and Ver, to protect their rare wildlife and encourage people to enjoy and appreciate them.Allen Beechey with Bowland Award

Allen Beechey is the manager of the Chalk Streams Project. ”I am delighted that our work to bring the streams back to life has been rewarded. For 16 years the Chalk Streams Project has done much to raise the profile of these special streams. It has invested over £1 million to restore them and has done much to help local communities protect and conserve the streams that they love.  What we are doing is ground-breaking in many respects and there is so much more to do.”

Peter Hinde is chairman of the Project, “This is a fantastic partnership with the Chiltern Society, Environment Agency, Affinity Water, Wildlife Trusts and Local Authorities. It is testament to the importance of our work that the Project is still going after all these years. That in itself makes it unique. Finding the money to keep it going is a challenge. I hope the prestige of winning this national award will help galvanise everyone to keep rallying round. Finally, I must give full praise to Allen Beechey. It is his drive and enthusiasm that really makes the difference.”


Major achievements of the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project over the last 16 years include:

  • Over £1 million invested in conservation and restoration of 9 chalk streams.
  • Enhancement and restoration of over 15km of chalk stream habitat.
  • Award winning Education Pack.
  • Creation of promoted and waymarked walks along six rivers.
  • Reduction in abstraction for the public water supply.
  • Education projects: Chilterns Water Festival and Trout in the Classroom.
  • Creation of local river conservation groups.
  • Regular volunteer work parties on 6 rivers
  • Water Vole Recovery Project – 97% population decline on the River Chess completely reversed in 8 years.
  • Riverfly monitoring groups set up and supported on 4 rivers.
  • Lead role in developing a catchment scale approach to river management.
  • Implementation of conservation projects on behalf of the Environment Agency.
  • Extensive riverside tree management and pollarding programme.
  • Restoration of water meadows.
  • Promotion of water conservation including support for water metering.
  • Advisory service to landowners and angling groups - over 200 visits.

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