The project was commissioned to conduct surveys at sites on the River Itchen (SSSI/SAC) in order to complete a condition assessment for river habitats, following the Common Standards guidance (2014).

Objectives:

The aim of this project was to apply Common Standards Monitoring (rivers) to obtain data on habitat and ecological condition for sites on the River Itchen (and selected tributaries: Cheriton Stream, River Alre and Candover Stream).

Methods:

The survey was conducted in July 2014, which is within the optimal part of the season for recording river macrophyte communities. Weather conditions were good with sunshine and clear skies throughout most of the survey period. River conditions were also good for surveying, with stable flow and no turbidity. River Habitat Surveys (RHS) and macrophyte (Leafpacs) surveys were conducted at each site.

Results:

The main outputs from the project included i) Site summaries and processed survey data (i.e. completed RHS data forms for each survey site in paper form and completed Leafpacs survey spreadsheets for each survey site) and ii) a technical evaluation of the survey, including descriptive interpretation of the data and a summary of condition judgements for the relevant attributes. The final report includes guidance and recommendations that will enable Natural England to conduct a robust condition assessment for the habitats associated with the interest feature.

Conclusions:

At present, and on the basis of the survey described in this report, all reaches are categorised as Unfavourable. The main reasons are due to historic channel modification and a predominantly un-natural physical structure. Overall, the channel macrophytes were typical of a healthy chalk stream – but there was also evidence of pressure from nutrient enrichment and localised sedimentation. None of the survey sites achieved High ecological status using the Leafpacs methodology and classification (WFD), although most were recorded as Good status.

Links:

LEAFPACS

CheritonStream
© Niall Grieve