Hampshire Chalk Stream Headwaters Forum gains consensus on way forward

Vitacress Conservation Trust and partners resolve to collaborate to protect and enhance Hampshire’s globally significant chalk stream ecosystems.

Wednesday 13 June 2007 marked the first of what is to become an annual Forum which brought together all key stakeholders involved in the conservation and restoration of the Hampshire chalk waters for the first time. The goal of the Forum was to allow multiple local stakeholders to come together and share perspectives and knowledge on the critical environmental issues facing the famous chalk streams, in order that they could agree a practical route forward for the benefit of this precious and uniquely English resource. Those stakeholders included businesses, government agencies, water supply, conservation groups, research organisations, anglers and local landowners.

Despite some historic differences between the viewpoints of these parties, the members of the Forum unanimously agreed to create a formal ‘Chalk waters Catchment Management Group’ for the River Test and its sub-catchments, the majority of which fall outside of the protection of designation enjoyed by the Itchen’s tributaries. The role of this group will be to interpret the body of scientific research being undertaken on the Streams and their ecology, and to translate and ultimately guide that research into practical solutions that can be implemented on the ground.

Lord Selborne, Patron of the Vitacress Conservation Trust and Chair of the Forum commented “I was impressed by the expertise represented at the Forum, the depth of

knowledge of this complex subject displayed, as well as with the spirit of collaboration and desire for positive progress amongst groups with sometimes opposing views. The Forum agreed that it was only by working together that the collective goal of the protection and conservation of precious chalk streams could be achieved”.

Paul Knight, Chairman of the Salmon & Trout Association commented ”The forum proved yet again that communication and cooperation between all interested parties is the best way forward to finding solutions to environmental problems affecting our rivers. I greatly look forward to working within the forum in future to help secure the protection and enhancement of our unique chalk stream habitats and ecosystems.”

Keynote speakers at the event included Dr Pete Shaw of the University of Southampton; Charles Barter, President of the NFU Watercress Association; Tina Jeary, Head of Fresh Foods Product Development and Technology from Sainsbury’s; Chris Rostron of the Wildlife Trusts; Paul Knight of the Salmon & Trout Association and Meyrick Gough of Southern Water. Panelists included senior representatives from the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Professor Gail Taylor Chair of the Vitacress Conservation Trust said “We were thrilled with the impressive turnout from such a wide representation of interests in our chalk streams, and delighted by the consensus view on the day that collaboration in particular between the private, conservation and angling sectors is the only way forward.”

Forum presentations and white papers available for download

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