Environment in association with the Mirror

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

The River Dun is currently ‘Failing Good Ecological Status’ according to the Environment Agency, through our exciting ‘Everybody’s River Project’ Action for the River Kennet (ARK) will work in partnership with the local community and surrounding area of Froxfield, Wiltshire through which this tributary of the River Kennet flows to improve this special chalk stream for the benefit of native wildlife and residents by involving the community in a variety of ways.
Under guidance from our Project Officer and working alongside our regular volunteers the villagers, including the Froxfield Parish Council who own a 1 acre meadow and wetland that are alongside the stream will be able to join in practical river restoration tasks and be part of a team passionate about improving this unique and globally rare environment that is home to many iconic British species of wildlife, including otter, water vole and kingfisher.
This project will provide the perfect opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved, meet new people, gain new skills and invest in their local outdoor space. Participating in outdoor conservation work is known to bring health benefits both physically and mentally, our volunteers are a mix of students, sufferers of mental health issues, working professionals, the unemployed and the retired, all of whom will get a tremendous sense of satisfaction and pride through contributing to this hands on project.
We want to make this stream and the surround habitats into a key feature of the village, currently it is hidden and in a poor state, we want everyone in the community to enjoy their stream, meadow and wetland and for the site to be developed into a high quality experience, where biodiversity is preserved and enhanced and people can have a natural space with easy access and be able to relax and be inspired.
For younger members of this area we will run our highly successful ‘Trout in the classroom’, where local schools are invited to have a tank of brown trout eggs and care for them as they hatch and develop. This teaches the students about the fragile chalk stream environment, life-cycles, water efficiency and is a really fun way to engage students with what lives in their river. We will visit several times to run hands on workshops in the classroom, including a freshwater invertebrate session and arrange for the school to visit their local river (the Dun) to release their young fish.
We will also run a Yellow Fish campaign, a team of volunteers will be provided with Yellow Fish signs and equipment to fix the signs next to drains, the important message is Only Rain Down the Drain. Rivers and streams are polluted by people pouring liquids including paint and pesticides down drains, by raising awareness with the signs and information leaflets dropped through local letterboxes everyone can help keep their local river healthy and unpolluted.
Appropriate and attractive information panels will encourage villagers and visitors to enjoy the site and learn a little about the area and what they can expect to see there.
We will visit local cub, brownie, beaver, scout and WI groups to spread the word about this exciting project and raise awareness through presentations and interactive experiments centred around chalk streams, particularly the Dun and the objectives of this project and how they can all be involved. We will be offering Tour & Explore visits to the River Dun where participants can river dip, gain identification skills and interact with the outdoors, as well as having lots of fun. Our sessions and workshops will be tailored to individuals, age and ability and link into group badges and the curriculum when required.
This project is a fantastic opportunity to get local people working together, connecting, understanding and improving their river for now and the future creating a better riparian environment for themselves, their families and the flora and fauna associated with chalk streams.

Action for the River Kennet (ARK)

Moment of Pride

I am very proud of this small charity and its volunteers, they have achieved so much and continue to run a wide range of high quality, often community driven projects improving the chalk stream environment with exceptional public involvement. This exciting project will continue in this vein.

Location: Froxfield