Rivers Mimram and Beane under threat, report says

THEY are two of only about 200 chalk streams in the whole world – but they may not be around for much longer unless something is done to preserve them.

That is the warning issued by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which has just launched a new campaign raising awareness of the impact taking too much water from UK rivers is having on the environment – and singled out two chalk streams running through Times Territory as an example of the damage that is being caused by excessive abstraction.

The WWF’s report – entitled Riverside Tales – features a case study on the rivers Mimram and Beane, and claims that water extraction from both is among the highest in the country.

As a result, the various species of wildlife that call the Mimram and Beane home are under threat.

At Tewinbury, the Mimram is home to over 20 species of birds, including the grey wagtail, the kingfisher and the reed bunting. The Beane, which runs through Watton-at-Stone, houses a colony of water voles.

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Although it admits significant progress was made in 2009, the WWF says that opportunities are still being missed to protect the 200 or so chalk streams in the world, and called for more stringent measures such as increasing the number of homes with water meters.

Speaking at the launch of the report, at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, where the Mimram runs through, WWF director of programmes Glyn Davies described the two chalk streams as “Cinderella rivers”.

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“Their beauty and importance has always been overlooked,” he said.

The launch also saw the screening of a film called Rivers on the Edge, directed by acclaimed fishing expert, author and television presenter Charles Rangely Wilson.

Before his film was shown, Mr Rangley Wilson called river abstraction “our burning rainforest”.

“Our right to mourn the decimation of special habitats elsewhere in the world is massively lessened by our inability to look after our own,” he added.

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