Background: Only 14% of British rivers are in a good condition, a proportion that has decreased in recent years and in some cases they are in danger of disappearing altogether. England possesses 160 of the 210 true chalk streams that exist in the world and are said to be ecologically England’s rainforests, but these are all in severe danger. They exist in, or emanating from, chalk hills from Kent in the south-east to Somerset and up to Yorkshire in the north and Norfolk in the east. 9 rivers drain the Chiltern Hills which have become my preoccupation on behalf of the Chiltern Society over the past 18 months.
Although modest in size they can be very beautiful, flowing crystal-clear over a gravel bed and supporting rich ecologies. However since the mid twentieth century, they have been robbed of their water for the mains supplies, for farming and industry such that they are becoming dry for much of their lengths, and flows in what is left are severely depleted. In many places they are also used as drains, hidden in culverts or neglected.
Doug is working with the Chiltern Society to spearhead action to restore water to the chalk streams and protect them as longer-term plans proceed to improve water supplies to the South-East of England.