Why are English chalk streams important?

The Geography and Environment postgraduate blog

We’ve looked at where chalk streams come from and their characteristics. Now it’s time to consider why English chalk streams are important.

The ecological significance of England’s chalk rivers is internationally recognised. England has the largest number of chalk rivers of any European country, with a cumulative length of nearly four thousand kilometres. The cultural and economic value of such rivers is also high; water abstraction, irrigation, fisheries management, energy provision and navigation are just some of the demands placed upon chalk rivers both historically and today. Consequently, the conservation of chalk rivers is a key concern for land managers, with ten chalk river Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) and four candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC’s) across England.

There are all kinds of interesting species of biota in chalk stream environments, including this colourful mushroom

Ecological diversity within chalk rivers is accommodated by habitat diversity, which in healthy waterways is facilitated by (relict) side channels, clean gravel-pebble substrates, wetland meadows, Ranunculus beds…

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About Trevor Bond

A Geomorphology Technical Officer at the Environment Agency. All opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessary reflect the views of my employer.
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