Over the past few months, volunteers have been involved with many activities as part of our partnership project Sparkling Streams - and getting up close and personal with nature.
Enthusiastic volunteers, including pupils from the school and their families, descended on Shalbourne Primary School during the summer half term break to build a rain garden designed by Wendy Allen working with ARK. With the help of James Lawrence-King, our Sparkling Streams project officer, the willing workers lugged rocks, wood and stone, built a deadwood hedge, and dug and planted to bring Wendy’s design to life. More volunteers kept the landscape gardeners well fed and watered with homemade cake and copious amounts of tea!
This delightful little garden takes rainwater from the roof of the school and diverts it away from the storm drains and into a garden packed with plants that can thrive with intermittent flooding. Reducing rain flow into the drains in this way alleviates pressure on the sewage system and so contributes to the reduction in untreated sewage running in to our beautiful chalk streams. The garden also gives the school children a place to play with water and a hands-on way to learn about looking after the environment.
You can find out more about rain gardens, how they can help to reduce flooding and pollution and how you can incorporate them into your own garden here.
Volunteer groups, led by James, have conducted vole surveys in a number of locations across the project area. We will use this data to help target work to support and increase water vole populations. Water voles are Britain’s fastest declining mammal, so they need all the help they can get.
Other people have undertaken practical conservation tasks including skylighting (cutting back overhanging tree branches and scrubby growth, to let light into the river), habitat works and stream-edge planting on the Dun and the Shalbourne. This work will improve flows by making the channel more sinuous. New plants will protect banks from erosion, help to remove pollutants and provide habitat for wildlife; removing some of the tree cover will let in more light to help plants to grow.
You can find more information about Sparkling Streams project on our website here.
If you would like to know more about volunteer activities and how to get involved visit the ARK website at riverkennet.org
Sparkling Streams is a partnership project; the partners are North Wessex Downs AONB, Action for River Kennet, the Town and Manor of Hungerford and the Southern Streams Farmer Group. It is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.