River Stour Enhancement Project

Restoring the River Stour...partnership project for the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project

The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project (DVSVP) and the Environment Agency (EA) are working together on a partnership project to address Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets in the Stour catchment. The EA and the DVSVP have worked successfully on projects in the past and it was identified in 2012 that there was a good opportunity to set up a partnership project that would focus on improving the ecological status of the River Stour and its tributaries.

The partnership project has been running since the summer of 2012 and recently received a further boost from Environment Agency funding, ensuring the project can continue. The funding has enabled recruitment of a dedicated River Stour Project Officer in the team - Alex Moore da Luz (replacing Matt Holden) manage a series of highly successful initiatives across the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project area. The River Stour project aims to strike a balance between protecting the diverse wildlife living in and around the River Stour and its tributaries whilst providing access for people to enjoy.

The project is governed by the River Stour Project Steering Group which includes the DVSVP manager, River Stour Project Officer and the EA WFD Catchment Delivery Manager. The main aims and outcomes of the collaborative agreement for the project are:

  • To develop a suite of river restoration projects by working with landowners, local authorities, conservation organisations, statutory bodies and volunteers to address WFD issues including morphology, diffuse pollution from agriculture and fish failures.
  • To build strong relations with landowners, land managers, local community groups and conservation organisations in order to raise awareness of WFD issues and to encourage engagement in catchment restoration projects.
  • To set up a Local Action Group in the Stour Valley to tackle the issue of non-native invasive species in the catchment with a specific focus on non-native invasive plants (NNIP). This will involve raising awareness, undertaking NNIP surveys and organising control/eradication work. Further information on our NNIP project is available
  • To bid for funding from a range of sources including the Defra Catchment Restoration Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Landfill Tax Fund and EA WFD funding to enable the above works to be undertaken.

In the early stages of the project the DVSVP, rather excitingly, managed to secure some further funding (£25,000) from the EA to help fund projects that specifically address WFD issues and to improve fisheries habitat. This funding has been used to undertake projects to re-instate and create important features in the river such as riffles, pools, aquatic ledges and backwaters that are critical for a range of different fish species as well as other aquatic life.

In October 2014 and October 2016 large scale habitat restoration projects were completed which aimed to improve the in-channel habitat for spawning fish, increase connectivity with the flood plain to benefit wetland flora and fauna and increase channel diversity to enhance the habitat for freshwater invertebrates and aquatic plants - see information here. 

In 2016 the Project received funding of £3,500 from the Branch Out Fund, part of Essex & Suffolk Water, for a "500 Trees" planting project.  Landowners have been very welcoming to this scheme and planting will take place over the 2016-17 winter.

The DVSVP also worked with the EA to deliver a catchment scale WFD Walkover Survey for the whole of the River Stour and its tributaries. Further information on the survey is available.

If you would like any further information on the project then please get in touch with the River Stour Project Officer, Alex Moore da Luz on alex.mooredaluz@suffolk.gov.uk or 01394 445225

 

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