Faggots in the River Wye

18 September 2009 – HW/715/09




Wild brown trout to flourish along the River Wye


Wild brown trout are set to make a comeback along the River Wye thanks to a joint project between the Environment Agency, Wooburn and Bourne End Parish Council and the ‘Revive the Wye’ and Chiltens Chalk Streams projects.


The River Wye is a chalk river, supporting a known worldwide rare habitat, including brown trout, damselflies, dragonflies and water crowfort . Historically, the Wye sustained a very healthy population of wild brown trout, but recent monitoring has shown that their numbers are dwindling. The industrialisation of High Wycombe during the post-war years and poor water quality has lead to much of the habitat being lost, having a hugely detrimental Environment  Agency in the Wyeimpact on the local fish populations.


Currently the section of the River Wye running through Wooburn Park is a very straight with uniform depth and no pools, riffles or other significant features to help fish breed.  This joint scheme aims to improve fish populations and create a better habitat for wildlife along this stretch of the Wye. 


Soft engineering techniques including faggots (bundles of hazel sticks) will be used to guide the natural flow of the river.  This will help create pools and riffles in the river. These newly formed features will provide shelter, allowing fish to rest in the slower water, and cause scouring of the bed in faster sections, providing the ideal place for

trout to spawn in clean gravel.

 Faggots in the Wye

The faggots also provide long-term erosion control and improve biodiversity by increasing habitat.  Vegetation will colonise the faggots, acting both as natural silt traps and providing useful spawning areas for a variety of fish species. 


Environment Agency fisheries officer Jenni Balmer said: “Only a small number of trout have been recorded here, all being of a similar age . This is very worrying for the future of trout on the Wye. 


‘It is important to recognise this problem early to ensure the health of the river.  There is a fish population with the potential to breed and by providing the right conditions we expect the fish to thrive and sustain their population.


“Trout on the River Wye have above average growth rates, which is a very good sign for the future.  With the right habitat fish population in the River Wye could be exceptional.”