Volunteer River Keeper Training

Nick Lawrence, WTT Conservation Officer for the south, carried out three days of practical training for 14 volunteer river keepers from the headwaters of the Itchen and Test in October. The training involved a variety of soft engineering techniques using locally won woody material to deflect flows and scour out fresh gravel, narrow the channel and create cover for trout.
This was both a training exercise and a mini project to improve the habitat for trout and other wildlife on the Upper Test in Hampshire. In all, 16 woody ‘structures’ were put on place by the volunteers – enough to keep everyone busy, learn a variety of techniques and make a real difference to the quality of the habitat in the river. This is connected to a larger project that will be delivered next year.

The owner of the beat was very pleased and said he planned to continue the good work and adopt the same methods for managing the river as did the other trainees on the day, who also requested WTT advisory visits.

The day was funded by the National Lottery under the Watercress and Winterbournes project, which is a five-year Landscape Partnership Scheme that is protecting, enhancing, and celebrating seven local chalk streams. The scheme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and brings together 16 partners, including Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

This was the programme for each day:

  • H&S briefing and discussions, including risk assessment
  • Organising practical sessions
  • Planning projects (what to do where, what permit you might need, help available)
  • Demonstration of some techniques (e.g. woody structures, hinging)
  • Review of the work delivered and how that work might evolve for the benefit of the river
  • Q&A

Workshop Oct 21 1

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