Teamwork to restore the River Mel

WTT’s Conservation Officer Rob Mungovan has recently been hard at work on the River Mel in Cambridgeshire. 

This partnership project, in and around the village of Melbourn, has included adding 200 tonnes of gravel and chalk, to restore a healthy river bed with lots of flow diversity, which in turn will create a range of habitats for different species in this well-loved small chalk stream. 

Mel adding chalk and gravel
Adding chalk and gravel to the riverbed, under Rob's careful supervision

Dense, tunnelling scrub has also been cut back to reduce overshading – allowing more light into the river so that aquatic water crowfoot and starwort can flourish, and lower-growing bankside plants can provide better habitat for water voles. 

Cambridgeshire’s chalkstreams have been challenged for many decades by pollution, lack of water and physical damage like straightening and dredging. Practical projects like this can’t put more or better-quality water into a river like the Mel, but they can certainly restore some of its physical and habitat diversity, and help to make it more resilient to other challenges. 

Mel SCDC staff placing flow deflector
Staff from South Cambridgeshire District Council placing a flow deflector

Hands-on river restoration projects are also a brilliant way to get local people involved with and caring for their local environment, and Rob will soon be working with volunteers from the River Mel Restoration Group (RMRG) to add extra biodiversity to the riverbanks with colourful native plants.

Mel restoration team
The River Mel restoration team

Our other project partners have included Melbourn Parish Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge Water.

Read our full press release about the project HERE.

Mel nice pic 1 after
Gravels restored: this stretch of the Mel now flows as a bright stream again