What is the River Asker Community Project?
We take immense pride in our beautiful village, nestled amidst the captivating landscape where the River Asker gracefully makes its journey. Flowing for approximately 12km from the enchanting Eggardon Hill, our beloved river meets the Rivers Brit and Simene in the charming town of Bridport.
Our catchment, predominantly agricultural, boasts a delightful mix of arable and dairy farming, contributing to the unique character of our surroundings. However, we’ve noticed that the River Asker has faced challenges, being classified as ‘Poor’ by the Environment Agency. This is primarily due to a reduced presence of fish and plant species compared to what is typical for this type of river.
But fear not! Our vibrant community has united to address these concerns. We’ve identified key issues, including artificial barriers in the river, shade from riparian trees, catchment land-use, and invasive species. Together, we’re taking action. The focus has been on addressing riparian trees and combating the invasive Himalayan balsam. We’ve even started exploring ways to bypass historic weirs along the river, and a dedicated river monitoring group has been established.
In addition, local landowners in the catchment have enthusiastically joined the cause. They’ve planted hedgerows, created silt traps on high-risk flow pathways, implemented natural flood management solutions in the headwaters, and experimented with herb-rich grass mixes to assess their impact on water infiltration and fodder quality.
The results speak volumes about our collective efforts:
- Over 70 individuals, including eight skilled citizen scientists, have actively participated in the project.
- A remarkable 1.4km of habitat improvements have been made.
- Natural flood management covers 2km in the headwaters of the catchment.
- A substantial 15ha of land has witnessed improved management, complemented by the addition of 400m of new hedges, all for the benefit of our precious water environment.
- The project has been a labor of love, with the community contributing at least 700 hours of effort.
This incredible initiative was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Dorset Wild Rivers partnership, involving the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dorset Wildlife Trust, and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West. We’ve received invaluable support from the Dorset Catchment Based Approach, Environment Agency, and Wessex Water. Of course, none of this would be possible without the active involvement of our cherished residents in Loders, Uploders, and right here in Askerswell.
Each year, a report is created through the analysis of ecological data collected, shedding light on the health and vitality of the rivers within our study area. This report encapsulates a wealth of information gathered through a diverse array of ecological indicators, offering valuable insights into the state of our waterways.
You can view the report below