Itchen Abbas Restoration Works

Split level of the River Itchen © Linda Pitkin/2020 VISION

An extensive river restoration project at Itchen Abbas is being carried out by the Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust, with the approval of the Environment Agency. The area includes land which Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust manages under a farm business tenancy. As such, the Trust has a role in ensuring that the project team has access, the area is made safe, and wildlife is protected.

As part of the project, and in consultation with land owners and the local Parish Council, the Trust has a duty of care to limit access to the holding we manage, and protect the site which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its high wildlife value.

The northern boundary is therefore being fenced off this winter to restrict public access to the area around the trees known as "Cow Down". We are also felling or making safe a large number of trees in this area. The limited access will protect public safety and also prevent access to a row of veteran trees which are have TPO’s and are to be retained.

Added to this, recreational activity on the land has had an impact on the Trust's ability to manage and improve the land. Impacts include significant dog fouling which poses a risk to livestock as well as adversely impacting the high wildlife value of the site. 

We always regret limiting access to nature for the general public and try to avoid this where possible, appreciating the value that nature brings to us all. However, where there is a health and safety risk, or a risk to nature itself we have no choice. We hope the local community will understand the reasons behind the fencing.