The stretch of the Little Stour being undertaken is unnaturally straight, overly wide, shallow and uniform with no shading from trees. There is very little vegetation on the banks or in the river channel due to grazing pressure. Adult trout are barely able to pass through the shallowest areas during summer. Species diversity is low and overall it is very poor for riparian wildlife.
The work will consist of creating a series of pools and berms using a mechanised 360 excavator. During periods of low flow, these features will create a more sinuous channel which is narrower and deeper than the current channel, facilitating fish migration. These works are similar to those which can be seen downstream from the weir. They will create variety in aquatic habitat for plants, fish and invertebrates. The river banks will be fenced off to allow vegetation to grow and a functioning ecosystem to develop. The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership hope that over time trees will grow up on the banks to provide some shading. In appearance, the river is likely to come to resemble the section alongside Nargate Street close to Littlebourne
Trout and other fish species require different flow, depth and temperature ranges at different stages in their development. You can find more information on the Wild Trout Trust’s excellent website: http://www.wildtrout.org.
The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership will also be repairing the existing bund on the north bank, adding clay to areas where cattle trampling has caused erosion. This will improve flood prevention for the village
The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership have been involved in various projects in and around Wickhambreaux. These include creating and managing ponds for private landowners, hedge planting, designing and installing interpretation panels. They monitor 50 Barn Owl boxes in the Stour Valley, including one quite close to Wickhambreaux village.
Rivers have suffered greatly due to modification of route, straightening, pollution, over grazing, agricultural run-off, invasive species and over-abstraction. The Environment Agency has made funding available for river improvements throughout the Stour catchment in an attempt to reverse this damage.