Set to take place from October 30th to November 17th, the works are centred around rejuvenating a 380-meter stretch of this internationally important chalk river.
Funded by the Test & Itchen Catchment Partnership, the primary goals of the project are focussed on increasing the resilience of the river channel and marginal habitats to drought conditions. By employing natural materials and processes we will narrow the excessively wide river channel, thereby enhancing water flow, especially during dry periods. Additionally, the project seeks to develop a variety of habitats within the river and along its banks for the benefit of target species including the critically threatened Atlantic salmon.
"By preserving and enhancing the Itchen River, we're not only safeguarding a crucial ecosystem but also improving opportunities for people to connect with nature. Healthy rivers enrich our lives, offering recreational opportunities, clean water, and a vibrant habitat for wildlife. Our mission is to ensure that present and future generations can relish in the beauty and benefits of a thriving river system." – Andy Blincow, Project Lead, Wessex Rivers Trust
Localised tree works will be sensitively undertaken to allow more light to reach the channel, whilst the timber and brash generated will be used within the river to narrow and ‘re-wiggle' the channel. These works are essential for restoring the natural flow and morphology of the river, thereby significantly improving its overall health. The subsequent increase in habitat complexity will benefit a complex ecological community, from aquatic invertebrates within the river to the otter and bats that forage along the river at night. Furthermore, erosion prevention measures will be implemented to protect the river's banks from erosion, ensuring longevity of the adjacent navigation footpath.
A dedicated Q&A session is scheduled for 10am-12pm on October 30th. Interested parties are encouraged to watch for Wessex Rivers Trust branded flags along the Itchen Navigation footpath south of Kiln Lane, providing an opportunity to engage with the project team with any inquiries regarding the restoration initiative addressed.
Wessex Rivers Trust invites everyone to be a part of this collective effort towards a greener, healthier future for the beloved River Itchen. Together, we have the power to make a significant and lasting difference in the preservation and restoration of our cherished natural resources.