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The River Meon is facing a brighter future thanks to a community-wide effort to return it to good health

October 2, 2019 Marishelle Gibson

We are passionate about our beautiful environment in Hampshire and delighted to hear that others are taking the same pride in improving the area.

For years there was widespread concern at the decline of river life associated with the River Meon, sparking the formation of the Meon Valley Partnership (MVP).

The Meon Valley Partnership is made up of volunteers, professionals and local people all with an interest in a healthy river for a healthy community. Their mission is to provide a coordinated, strategic approach to conserving and enhancing the Meon Valley from source to sea.

The Meon is an internationally-important chalk stream and one of only 200 of its kind in the world.

Decades of pollution, modification and invasive species had taken its toll on the river and reduced its biodiversity.

Over the last decade the MVP has:

Re-introduced Water Voles – an important species of river habitat that recorded as locally extinct in 2003, but has now been returned to 30 locations along the river. Over six years, a total of 2,833 water voles were released along the river;

Helped otters to return – There are now thought to be three breeding females.

Worked with The Wild Trout Trust to make the river narrower in places, created deep pools, installed flow deflectors in the form of large tree trunks, and fenced out the cattle to allow plants on the banks to recover from trampling and grazing. The result is there are now lots of plants and insects on the banks and in the river, refuges for fish from predators, and a river that will stay cool in summer.

Together with The Wild Trout Trust have modified a weir, created a new wildlife friendly river bank and continue to manage and improve the river for wildlife.

In conjunction with other associations they have improved the stream as it goes through East Meon creating a more natural looking stream which should greatly improve the number of plants, insects, birds, bats and maybe trout too in this reach of the Meon.

They work with the River Fly Partnership to help monitor the water quality.

For further details see www.meonvalleypartnership.org.uk, www.wildtrout.org , www.gwct.org.uk , www.southdowns.gov.uk

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