Should We Be Rewilding The River Avon?

 In Birds, Environment

We should consider rewilding the River Avon. I would never have suggested this a few years ago but recent experience has changed my mind. Ann and I walked the Avon Valley Footpath recently and I posted on this. What struck me was the abuse the area had suffered. For millennia, the valley was a green artery striking inland from the sea. It was a vast waterfowl reserve of marsh alongside a snaking river that changed its flooding course each year. It was more tidal than now and always a major impediment to travellers crossing from west or east.

The Neolithic

My pagan ancestor Zuri knew it closer to its pristine state. Her people began the taming of the valley. This was without roads, bridges or steel shuttering to control the riverbanks. Okay, I accept that they will have seen off the beavers, that vulnerable creature with a coat to die for. But the river had a spiritual dimension to them and their logboats. The fact that they disembarked from the river to walk the avenue to Stonehenge speaks volumes. Consequently, to them the river and valley had a soul. This was why I called this tribal homeland Avonlands.

Rewilding the River Avon

Today, the unity of the valley has been lost, dissipated by each and every community. All individuals, including farmers and people applying for planning permission, have a collective responsibility. Because what happens upstream influences everybody below. Every chemical on a field and every turd entering a septic tank has implications downstream. Intensive farming and horse paddocks are an issue. An Expert Panel is necessary to manage the entire valley. Skills in ecology, water quality and reducing human impact are necessary. If the beavers return then they would create natural order along the river. For certain, this will increase the marsh and reduce the stress the river is experiencing. Consequently, because the water will be clear again the insects will flourish and bring back both fish and birds. The Avon Valley will be reborn!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Steve J

    Yes, do it! Did you read my piece on rewilding at Stonehenge?

    • Ken West

      Hi Steve, yes, I have read your post on Salisbury Plain and I could not agree more. Your proposal makes total sense and is well presented. Ann and I visited Imber a few years ago and it struck me how wild it was when travelling there. Sadly, I won’t be pursuing the rewilding of the Avon. Rather disappointed at the worsening environment of the wheat belt, we moved to the Peak District in December 2020. I have to say that the sheer mass of wildflowers here made that a good decision. I could add the sheer wealth of walks and even runs in the dales. That said, the complex situation as regards meat consumption and how that will impact on the Peak District is nowhere near being resolved. We have also become involved in the catastrophic decline in water voles, as bad here as anywhere. Keep up the good work.

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