River Stour in Dedham Vale

Founding of the Dedham Vale Stour Valley Project

The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project was founded 20 years ago. It consists of a small team of people  at the heart of a partnership between local authorities, government agencies, national organisations and local people. The aim of this partnership is to conserve and enhance the special qualities of the area.

A feature of the river valley is a large area of flood plain which provides an important method of controlling water levels in the surrounding countryside.

For more information please click on this link DedhamValeStourValleyProject

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The designated area of the AONB is 90 kilometres square and stretches from Manningtree to within one mile of Bures. The River Stour is the key landscape focus for the valley, its course being defined by river-bank trees, water meadows and a wide variety of wildlife habitats. Members of the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Project are aware that all these features are vulnerable to change due to changing agricultural practices, increased leisure time and an awareness of environmental concerns.

The Stour Valley Project Area has benefited from several enhancement schemes in which the AONB and the Environment Agency have worked together in partnership. The aim is to strike a balance between protecting the diverse wildlife living in and around the River Stour while also providing access for people to enjoy the landscape. 

Black Poplar Project

About 500 Black Poplars have been planted along the banks of the River Stour and seem to be flourishing.Male and female flowers are found on separate trees.

  • Flowers are catkins (male catkins are red and female catkins are yellow-green), and are pollinated by the wind.
  • Once fertilised, female catkins develop into fluffy, sticky, cotton-like seeds, which fall in late summer.
  • The poplars planted at Flatford are male clones so the sticky seeds are not a problem!
Black Poplar trees
Red catkins
Fluffy, sticky seeds

Return of Otters and Barb Fish

Thanks largely to the efforts of the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Project, the Stour has become possibly cleaner than it has ever been and otters have returned to the river. In 2003 6000 Barbles  (small carp-like fresh water fish) were released into the Stour as they considered it to be the only river clean enough to be suitable.  For more information on the Dedham Vale Stour Valley’s work please click on Dedham Vale Stour Valley Strategy Plan