Restored Barton Carrier at Winnall Moors. Image: Martin de Retuerto
The River Itchen is a classic example of a chalk river, supporting a range of internationally important plants and animals.
This Special Area of Conservation rises from the chalk aquifer at the Hampshire Downs, flowing through Winchester before joining the Solent at Southampton.
Much of the River Itchen has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation based on the presence of seven species of ecological interest; the water crowfoot and populations of southern damselfly, crayfish, otter, salmon, bullhead and brook lamprey.
Its water quality is crucial to support the plants and invertebrates and in turn, the wide range of species that the river supports. Unusually for a chalk stream, the Itchen has many different species of breeding dragon and damselfly including the broad-bodied chaser, common darter and banded demoiselles.