ARC Project

Project Category: Other

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  • Our Story

    Arun and Rother Connections (ARC) is a landscape-scale project being delivered by a partnership made up of the RSPB, Environment Agency, Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Natural England, West Sussex County Council and the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust. Following a year of development work the project was awarded over £1.1 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in July 2013 for a three year £2 million programme of work. The ARC project is a major project within the wider Arun and Western Streams catchment, which has its own Steering Group.

    ARC project vision and aims:

    1.Promote a rich and thriving river system where wildlife flourishes and where people value and enjoy the landscape, natural and cultural heritage.

    2.Work with landowners to protect, restore and reconnect wildlife habitats.

    3.Improve water quality and eliminate non-native invasive species.

    4.Better connect the community to the catchment, through access improvements, engagement opportunities and interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage of the project area.

    Background

    The ARC project has developed in response to the many problems currently being faced in the catchment. The rivers do not currently interact naturally with their floodplains, resulting in poor flood management which poses a threat to local communities and significant problems for fish and other wildlife moving up and down river. Habitats are fragmented and isolated, leading to the physical and genetic isolation of key species, such as water vole. The area has one of the worst soil erosion and agricultural run-off problems in the UK causing extensive problems for both farmers and wildlife.

    Water quality is poor with recent direct pollution incidents adding to the problem. Fish populations on both the Arun & Rother are currently failing to meet their potential –without improvements in habitat and fish passage these populations cannot become self sustaining. Non-native invasive plant species swamp riverbanks, ditches and ponds, adding to flood problems, bank erosion and threatening food production and wildlife. Buried archaeology is threatened by the drying out of wetlands through over-abstraction and climate change.

    Main project activities:

    • 4 project staff
    • Major works to improve fish passage at three sites on the river Arun
    • Restoration of 13.5km stretch of Upper Arun
    • Habitat improvements (through 9 new Higher Level stewardship (HLS) agreements (~240 hectares)
    • Wetland habitat restoration (floodplain meadow, fen, wet woodland, chalk stream) & species work
    • Surveys and removal of non-native invasive aquatic plant species
    • Ecosystem services mapping project
    • Improvements at three nature reserves; Burton Mill Pond, Pulborough Brooks and Waltham Brooks.
    • Community activities including free taster sessions and workshops for young people (e.g canoeing, angling, bushcraft and wildlife and landscape photography).
    • Wetlands education programme for the 64 primary schools in the project area including a new resource pack on the Arun and Rother rivers and river field trips led by experienced field teachers
    • Landowner engagement & training
    • Volunteering opportunities including tree planting, habitat or wildlife surveying, invasive species removal and oral history training.

    For more information about the ARC project contact Rachel Carless, the ARC project manager; rachel.carless@rspb.org.uk/ Tel: 01273 775 333. Visit www.arunwesternstreams.org.uk for more information about other catchment initiatives. 

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