In 2021, Wildlife Trust BCN was awarded a PEBBLE fund grant of £3,740 to improve the health of part of the Cherry Hinton Brook.

Cherry Hinton Brook is one of a number of chalk streams across Cambridgeshire and offers a valuable habitat corridor for a variety of wildlife, including kingfishers and water voles.

The main focus of this project was to reshape the banks of this straight section of brook, shallowing the gradient and opening up the Daws Lane side of the brook, to allow more light in and encourage marginal plants to establish. In addition, gravel was used to raise the bed level and create riffle areas, and low-level woody material was added to diversify flows. This will create greater habitat variety for aquatic invertebrates such as freshwater shrimp, mayfly and caddisfly.

Although the brook is not directly connected to the main river Cam, it does also support small fish, which will benefit from more diverse stream cover and the increased invertebrate populations. Consequently, kingfisher will also benefit from an increase in fish in the brook.

Photo of the work happening; shaping ledges and shovelling gravelThis work is a continuation of a project completed in 2021 as part of the Greater Cambridge Chalk Streams Project. Choosing the section of stream directly downstream from the recent habitat-restoration work, enables the biodiversity improvements to spread more easily to the enlarged area of optimal and varied habitats adjacent along the stream. The Greater Cambridge Chalk Streams Project is a partnership with the City Council and Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook, and volunteers from each helped with the work. 

The area now looks much nicer and the brook is more noticeable as a wildlife habitat rather than a "city drain". 

Photo of Cherry Hinton Brook before and after work, showing it very overgrown and straight before the work was carried out.Since the work was completed, there have been regular sightings of herons and of riverflies, including caddis and mayflies, using the new gravel.

This project has allowed Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook to set up a riverfly-monitoring site and volunteers survey it every month, logging data on an online open database. The success of the project will continue to be measured through invertebrate family surveys carried out; prior to, immediately following, and a year after the improvement works.

Posted: 20 March 2023

Photo of the heron in Cherry Hinton Brook used with kind permission of Geoff Oliver.

Graphic stating Pebble - projects that explore biodiversity benefits in the local environment