Hampshire County Council and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, together with 13 partners, have secured £1,937,800 of National Lottery funding to enhance and protect the unique chalk headwater streams of the Test and Itchen rivers. The award will fund the Watercress and Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme, a collaboration of local communities and organisations focussing on natural flood management, local heritage preservation, enhancing habitat and preserving endangered species.
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “This significant funding award will be used over the next five years on a range of planned activities to protect this unique chalk landscape and the wildlife it supports. “This has been a truly collaborative effort and I would like to thank everyone who gave their time, and expertise to help make this funding application a success, and to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their continued advice and support. The local community has been at the heart of the plans through the development of this project and will be empowered to safeguard their streams for many years to come.”
There are approximately only 200 existing chalk streams worldwide, most of those in England. In Hampshire, the alkaline waters provide a unique habitat for species such as water vole, brown trout, southern damselfly, water crowfoot, and endangered white-clawed crayfish.
Debbie Tann, Chief Executive of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to be delivering this fantastic scheme, which will have real benefits for both people and wildlife. We look forward to working closely with our partners, and with the communities in the area, to ensure we achieve real and lasting change for these precious chalk stream environments.”
Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Nature is our oldest form of heritage and helping the natural world to recover and thrive is a key priority for National Lottery funding. We are delighted to support this scheme which will involve communities and partners in securing a bright future for our rare chalk streams, the wildlife they support and their surrounding landscapes.”
The Watercress and Winterbournes project includes enhancing habitats, protecting rare species, repairing historic structures, and tackling the pressures of flooding through the use of natural flood management techniques. It brings together local communities and 14 organisations to restore and celebrate seven special chalk streams: the Bourne Rivulet, Candover Brook, Cheriton Stream, the Pillhill Brook, River Arle, Upper Anton, and Upper Test.