Bringing Back the Bulbourne



Objective – River Restoration.

The purpose of the project is to restore a 1000m stretch of the River Bulbourne between Fishery Road and Two Waters Road. The river in this location has been heavily modified in the past. It is over-wide and lacking in features characteristic of a chalk stream.

Project Background

The River Bulbourne is a chalk stream and under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 is listed as a priority habitat for restoration. It contributes significantly to the character of the open space around Boxmoor and is experienced and appreciated by the local community. It is a key asset to the landscape, but is heavily compromised by historic modifications.

The work comprises:

  • Regrading the banks to narrow to the channel, create more sinuosity and create a shallower bank profile
  • Installation of woody habitat features to help improve habitat and flow diversity
  • Stabilisation and narrowing of river crossing points
  • Reconnecting the floodplain and creation of floodplain scrapes (aka seasonal ponds)
  • Bed raising where the channel has been over-deepened,
  • Installation of fencing.

A later phase, currently planned for August, will focus on the creation of “scrapes”, also known as seasonal ponds.

The work will be carried out by Five Rivers Environmental Management. This project is jointly funded and managed by the Environment Agency, Box Moor Trust, and the Chilterns Chalk Stream project.

Follow our Bulbourne Project blog for weekly updates!

May 2017 Update:

We are delighted to see the changes made to the river are beginning to bed in. The banks have managed to regenerate, despite the unseasonably dry weather, which has improved the look of the river. Our river fly monitoring volunteer group have been extremely positive since the works have been carried out; they have seen a marked increase in the number, and range, of riverfly on the sites in which large scale works have been undertaken. The project returned the River Bulbourne to a healthier, and more natural, state. Below is a before & after photo taken by the Chilterns Chalk Stream Project, highlighting the major difference that a couple of months makes. The top photo shows the river just after the works had been completed, whilst the bottom shows how the river looks as of the end of April 2017. Not only is the difference significant, we can see that the river looks much more natural, with lightly graded, sloping banks and a narrower, more sinuous flow.


August 2017 Update:

The eagle eyed among you may have already seen the new temporary display panels that have been erected on both Harding’s and Station Moor. These panels go in to some detail about the future of the Bulbourne project, specifically the creation of ephemeral ponds (also known as ‘Scrapes’), which are great for wildlife such as wading birds. In addition, further minor adjustments to perfect the previous works will also be carried out.

October 2017 Update:

The Box Moor Trust and  the Environment Agency are delighted to announce that on the evening of Wednesday 17th October, the ‘Bringing Back the Bulbourne’ Project won not one, but two awards!

Nancy Baume of the Environment Agency and Dennis Furnell of the Box Moor Trust collect the Medium Scale Project Conservation award from the Wild Trout Trust.

Dennis Furnell, the Box Moor Trust’s longest serving Trustee attended the Wild Trout Trust Awards ceremony at Mayfair’s Savile Club, alongside Nancy Baume from the Environment Agency, where they collected the 2017 conservation Award for a Medium Scale Project.

The ‘Bringing Back the Bulbourne’ Project was also acknowledged at the CPRE Hertfordshire Awards (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), winning a Commended  Certificate.

The awards serve to highlight the work carried out on the Bulbourne, which, prior to the project taking place, was overly silty, straight and wide, and in no way characteristic of a Chalk Stream. The Project has since returned the Bulbourne to a more natural, sinuous state. We are already seeing evidence that the work carried out has had a positive impact on the local ecology.

The Box Moor Trust would like to thank all of those involved at the Environment Agency, in particular Nancy Baume and Jack Herriot, for all of their hard work and dedication over the course of the last few years. In addition, the Trust would also like to thank Allen Beechey of the Chilterns Chalk Stream Project for his help as well as our dedicated team of volunteers whose tireless work has been integral to the project.

Phase two the Project is due to start the week commencing November 6th 2017, and is due to last approximately a week.