Volunteers sought for gravel seeding and planting the ‘Loddon Lily’
Organisers of the annual Loddon Rivers Week are appealing for dozens of volunteers to don wellies and waders and help meet ambitious targets to put 75 tonnes of gravel into riverbeds.
‘Gravel seeding’ events, which will improve spawning habitats for fish and invertebrates, are among seven public volunteering activities during the annual focus week on the Loddon, co-ordinated by the South East Rivers Trust since 2017.
Another key activity of the week, running from 18th-24th September, will be a chance to plant one hundred Loddon Lily bulbs, re-establishing a rare species.
Adopted by many as the Emblem of the Loddon, where it was first found and categorised, this plant is also known as the Summer Snowflake. It looks similar to a snowdrop, but has more open flowers of drooping, white six-petalled bells. Growing next to rivers in April and May, the Loddon Lily produces seeds in July, which disperse along water courses.
The River Loddon, which rises in Basingstoke and stretches across Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire before reaching the Thames at Wargrave, has plenty of special characteristics. Its upper reaches – where many of the Loddon Rivers Week events will take place – are globally rare chalk stream habitats, hugely valuable for biodiversity and home to brown trout, water voles and otters.
Twelve organisations, from conservation groups to local authorities, are ready to welcome volunteers, or simply people who are interested in learning more from experts in their fields.
Lou Sykes, Catchment Officer at the South East Rivers Trust, said: “Like most rivers in England, the Loddon faces many challenges such as pollution, invasive species and poor habitat and water quality. Loddon Rivers Week gives local people a real chance to do something about this by getting involved in conservation.
“This work is vital to improving rivers and helping a wide range of wildlife thrive around it. Last year, volunteers were thrilled to see instant results of fish investigating the 30 tonnes of newly laid gravels on one riverbed and this year we have several opportunities to do this vital work in different places.
“Improving rivers and their surroundings makes them wonderful places not only for nature but also to visit. So, we’re particularly excited about boosting numbers of the beautiful Loddon Lily at our planting event, which will be huge fun for all the family.”
Loddon Rivers Week is supported by the Environment Agency and, for the first time, Network Rail.
The public will need to sign up in advance for activities:
Monday 18th September and Tuesday 19th September: Get stuck in to gravel seeding to create spawning ground for fish at Greywell Flyfishers Club, Hook, on the River Whitewater, 9am to 5pm.
Wednesday 20th September: Don waders for restoration work at Ivy Park Rec on the River Blackwater, Aldershot with the South East Rivers Trust and the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, 10am to 3pm.
Wednesday 20th September: Come and install woody deflectors in the River Whitewater, creating some fantastic flow diversity in the watercourse at Greywell Flyfishers Club, 9am to 5pm.
Wednesday 20th September: Plant the Loddon Lily, re-establishing this rare species at Wokingham’s riverside parks.
Thursday 21st September: Join in gravel seeding at Bassetts Mead on the River Whitewater with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Network Rail and Hook Parish Council, 9am to 3pm.
Saturday 23rd September: The Chineham Conservation Group wants your help clearing vegetation to provide some much-needed light to the Pettys Brook. Tasks also involve a litter pick.
To book a place on any of the activities, visit our events page.