Upper Itchen

This project took place in three phases on a headwater stream of the River Itchen. The stream is important spawning


and juvenile habitat for trout, and is one of the very few refuges for native white clawed crayfish. Cattle grazing and poaching of the banks had resulted in an over wide, shallow channel. The aim was to improve the in-channel habitat for trout and native crayfish and wading birds.

The work was carried out by Andy Thomas of the WTT with the Environment Agency, and the video was also sponsored by the Environment Agency.

Faggot and chestnut posts
The techniques used for this project include narrowing the river with hazel faggot bundles secured with chestnut stakes, using an excavator to create a pool which will hold adult fish and a gravel ramp for spawning, and adding large flints for white clawed crayfish. Access for wading birds is helped by the low, wet margins behind the faggot bundles. The pool is maintained by a willow root wad and trunk which has a scouring effect to keep the pool and gravels free of silt.

Results: The Environment Agency monitoring suggests an marked improvement in trout abundance in this reach following the work. Details can be found here

The video below was shot during the works, and shows how traditional techniques to narrow the channel using faggots backfilled with native plants are complemented by creating pools using a digger. The video starts by looking at a project in the same area that was completed 12 months previously, and demonstrates how the changes made have affected the river and wildlife. 

More photos of the work in progress with comments are available here