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Chalk stream strategy launched to protect ‘England’s rainforests’ - Environment Agency and Natural England

The Environment Agency has today welcomed a new strategy launched to protect England’s chalk streams.

The report, published 15 October by the Catchment Based Approach’s Chalk Stream Restoration Group, sets out recommendations of how to enhance these precious habitats.

Chalk streams are a rare and valuable habitat, often referred to as England’s equivalent of rainforests. It is estimated that 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England and around 10% of these are in Lincolnshire.

Most water we drink in the east comes from rainwater stored deep beneath our feet in natural chalk ‘aquifers’, which feed our chalk streams. Chalk streams also need good water quality for different species of fish, plants and insects to flourish. However they face significant challenges in the 21st century due to complex problems worsened by climate change and population growth.

Recommendations in the strategy include enhanced status to drive investment in water resources and restoring physical habitat and biodiversity. The strategy has bought together partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England, Defra, water companies and environmental organisations.

Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd said: "England is home to 85% of the world’s chalk streams and their future depends on collective action from water companies, farmers, and landowners as well as government and regulators. No one should undermine the value of chalk streams, and today’s report adds clarity and certainty about what is expected of all their users. The National Framework for Water Resources encourages water companies to open up new infrastructure to reduce reliance on chalk aquifers. This is one of the many good proposals in today’s report that needs collective action."

Funding to tackle marine litter - Scottish Government

Project sees fishers remove debris from the ocean

A project to help remove harmful litter in our seas and raise awareness of its environmental impact is set for expansion after receiving almost £180,000 of funding from the Marine Fund Scotland.

A tangle of plastic strips and rope floating in water
Ocean pollution by naja-bertolt-jensen on unsplash

The Fishing for Litter scheme is part of an international movement to support removal of marine litter from fishing areas, and raise awareness of the damage done by marine litter with the fishing industry, local communities and school children.

The project also works to encourage improvement of waste management practices within the fishing industry.

First launched in Scotland in 2005, the scheme has grown to include 20 harbours, with more than 280 fishing vessels collecting 1,844 tonnes of marine litter.

The voluntary project has set ambitious targets for the coming year of landing at least 150 tonnes of marine litter, recruit at least another 30 member fishing vessels and add a minimum of three participating ports.

The funding will be used to cover waste collection and disposal, staff costs and education materials.

Announcing the funding at Eyemouth harbour, one of the 20 Fishing for Litter ports, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon said: “Marine litter is a global challenge and we are working nationally and internationally to address it.

“This funding demonstrates our commitment to reducing plastic pollution as part of a suite of wider measures which includes action on single-use plastic products.

Changing Chalk: partnership aims to breathe new life into ancient landscape with £2m grant - The National Trust

  • Swathes of precious chalk grassland to be restored on the South Downs, providing a lifeline for wildlife
  • Habitat can have up to 40 wildflower and 20 butterfly species per metre, but its extent has plunged in recent years
  • £2.23m from National Lottery Heritage Fund will also help bring local histories to life and provide outdoor experiences for those in need
  • Projects include returning 60 hectares of golf course to downland and reintroducing grazing at 40 sites
  • Over 800ha of land to be managed for nature
  • 10-strong partnership, led by the National Trust, includes organisations from across Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and Lewes
    View looking towards Newtimber Hill in August at Devil's Dyke, South Downs, West Sussex (©National Trust Images / John Miller)
    View looking towards Newtimber Hill in August at Devil's Dyke, South Downs, West Sussex (©National Trust Images / John Miller)

    A habitat that is so diverse in wildlife it has been nicknamed ‘Europe’s tropical rainforest’ is to be brought back to life thanks to a multi-million-pound grant raised by players of the National Lottery.

    Chalk grassland is internationally rare and one of the most nature-rich landscapes in the UK, home to beautiful and unusual wildflowers, orchids and butterflies. But the extent of the habitat has plunged by over 80% in recent decades – caused in part by intensive agriculture and the loss of traditional grazing – leaving sites small and isolated, and threatening resident wildlife.

    Now a £2.23m fund seeks to change that by breathing new life into chalk grassland on the eastern South Downs, while reconnecting local people and surrounding towns with the ancient habitat. The pioneering scheme, named Changing Chalk, is led by the National Trust and made up of ten core partners – including conservation organisations, Government bodies and a food charity.

    Over the next four years, 18 ambitious projects will restore and care for nature, improve people’s wellbeing, bring local histories and heritage to life, and break down complex barriers to participation in the outdoors in some of the UK’s most economically-deprived wards.

    A total of 815 hectares of land will be managed for nature, including returning 60 hectares of golf course back to chalk downland and reintroducing cattle and sheep grazing at 40 sites. Outdoor therapeutic sessions will be offered to people with mental health needs and an archaeology project will get people digging for history in their gardens and public spaces.

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