Chalk streams get timely cash boost

THE Chilterns’ precious chalk streams are to benefit from a £294,000 grant from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge fund.

The money will pay for an important initiative balancing practical restoration work with education and engagement projects.

The Chiltern Society and Chilterns Conservation Board are partners in the project, entitled: “Chalk stream and wetland meadows: guarding the irreplaceable for people and nature.”

RARE HABITAT: the River Chess at Latimer Park

Schemes developed by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project focus on wetland habitats across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The globally rare habitat supports a wide diversity of plants and animals and offers opportunities for recreation and relaxation as well as providing fresh water to local communities. Yet chalk streams are under threat from pollution, urban development, invasive species and climate change.

The grant will enable the creation of two jobs with the Chiltern Society and will indirectly benefit other NGOs and voluntary groups, including Revive the Wye, Benson Environment Group and Chiltern Rangers CIC.

Elaine King, chief executive officer of The Chilterns Conservation Board, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this funding. By connecting nature and people, we aim to secure a healthy future for chalk streams and for the people, communities and businesses of both the Chilterns AONB, and nearby urban areas.”

Tom Beeston, Chiltern Society chief executive, said: “It provides a much-needed and immediate boost in activity of works to protect our internationally rare and endangered chalk stream habitats. Longer term, it facilitates the building of volunteer capacity to continue that much-needed protection and awareness building for chalk streams and wetlands over the coming decades.”

In the first phase of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the government announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The sheer breadth and potential of these projects to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create employment is tremendously exciting.”

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