STREAM - River Avon cSAC: demonstrating strategic restoration and management

LIFE05 NAT/UK/000143

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Jenny WHEELDON
Tel: +44 1380 737023
Fax: +44 1380 721411
Email: jenny.wheeldon@naturalengland.org.uk

Project description:


The River Avon Site of Community Interest (SCI) supports more than 180 aquatic plant species, outstanding fish fauna, the annex II species Desmoulin’s whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana), and numerous nationally important species.

The Avon Valley Special Protection Area (SPA), located in the same area, includes one of the largest expanses of floodplain grassland in Britain. It is internationally important for its wintering populations of Bewick’s swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) and gadwall (Anas strepera), and has nationally important populations of waterfowl, rare plants, invertebrates and protected species for which Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) have been prepared.

The catchment area has an intricate history of settlement and land use. The River Avon and its tributaries have been heavily modified, reflecting usage over many centuries. As a result, the river’s ecological function and watercourse habitat has been damaged. Fishing is an important source of income to landowners along the river system and generates local employment. There is some conflict between water level managers and the protection of the aquatic species that qualify the site as Site of Community Interest (SCI).


The overall objective of the project was to demonstrate the restoration of the River Avon Site of Community Interest (SCI) to favourable conservation status through a catchment approach, and to integrate the management of the SCI with the adjacent Avon Valley Special Protection Area (SPA). In particular, the project would address issues that were identified by the River Avon SCI Conservation Strategy, produced through the LIFE in UK Rivers Project (LIFE99/NAT/UK/006088).

Specific objectives were to restore the watercourse habitat and conditions for associated species in the River Avon SCI and to demonstrate a range of innovative river restoration techniques appropriate to chalk rivers, for local, national and European audiences. The project also aimed to develop a coordinated management of the River Avon SCI and the Avon Valley SPA, balancing the requirements of the qualifying interests of each.

Six demonstration sites for river restoration were to be established throughout the River Avon. Innovative techniques and proven fish habitat enhancement methods would be combined to restore the favourable condition of the river’s ecology. Protocols would be developed to coordinate the management of the River Avon SCI and the Avon Valley SPA. Methods would be developed to protect fish species from entrapment in SPA ditch networks. A programme of ditch restoration would be developed to integrate the conservation objectives of the two sites.


The project met its specific objectives by:

    • Implementing restoration works and demonstrating a range of traditional and new techniques in different river habitats;
    • Disseminating project experience to a range of local, national and EU audiences, working with the UKRRC and Living River;
    • Producing best practice guidance on sluice operation, distributed to relevant landowners and operators in the SAC;
    • Publishing ditch management and fish (including Atlantic salmon) exclusion measures and dissemination to relevant landowners in the SPA; and
    • Improving stakeholder and public appreciation of the sites and species through use of a project website, workshops, leaflets, posters, media publicity, open days, sign and display boards and layman’s reports.

    The conservation benefits of the project for the River Avon SAC and Avon Valley SPA are as follows:

    • Physical features and geomorphological processes of the watercourse habitat were re-established at six river restoration demonstration sites in the River Avon SAC;
    • Approximately 7 km of river and banks were enhanced and woody debris introduced;
    • An estimated 0.36 ha of new spawning area for Atlantic salmon, bullhead and lamprey was created. Atlantic salmon are already spawning on the new gravel;
    • SPA floodplain restoration works were prioritised to avoid damaging SAC fish species, and a new prioritisation process was created and applied to approximately 30% of the SAC/SPA; and
    • Principles were developed for hatch operation to benefit SAC fish species and water level dependent habitat in the SPA.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater
Water - River basin management


grassland ecosystem‚  protected area‚  biodiversity‚  restoration measure‚  river management

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" (05.02.1998)
  • COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)" ...

Target species

 Cottus gobio   Lampetra fluviatilis   Salmo salar   Vertigo moulinsiana     

Target Habitat types

  • 3260 - Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation

Natura 2000 sites

SPA UK9011091 Avon Valley
SCI UK0013016 River Avon



Coordinator English Nature
Type of organisation National authority
Description English Nature is the UK Government’s advisor on nature conservation and biodiversity in England. Its purpose is to achieve and promote the conservation of England’s wildlife and natural features through its own actions and through enabling others to act. It is governed by a Council whose Chairman and members are appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment and it employs over 900 staff. It is responsible for selecting and designating Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and for advising Government on the selection, designation and management of Natura 2000 sites. It is also responsible for over 200 National Nature Reserves.
Partners Environment Agency, United Kingdom Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, United Kingdom Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT), United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/UK/000143
Duration 01-AUG-2005 to 30-SEP -2009
Total budget 1,570,163.00 €
EU contribution 628,065.00 €
Project location Yorkshire and Humberside(United Kingdom) South West (UK)(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Newsletter: Article-Paper STREAM Newsletter n°6
Newsletter: Article-Paper STREAM Newsletter n°7
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Book Physical and biological monitoring of STREAM rest ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Advice note on River Restoration
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Advice note - Linking River and Floodplain Managem ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's technical report (3.5 MB)
Publication: Technical report E.U. LIFE Nature Programme (LIFE 05/NAT/UK/000143) ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version