Cooper's Meadow is a chalkstream water meadow restoration project by Action for the River Kennet (ARK). This project has resulted in a successfully restored stretch of urban chalkstream and adjoining water meadow, increasing biodiversity and wildlife, as well as creating a natural environment for people to enjoy. This meadow is home to a wide range of plants, insects and animals; it also provides food for many birds. Wiltshire Horn sheep are provided by a local farmer for conservation grazing.
A large number of local residents, volunteers and students from St John's Community College and Marlborough College worked to clean up the site, construct new revetmments and plant seeds and flowers. The back stream round the meadow had become over-widened with steep unvegetated banks. It was narrowed, made more sinuous and planted with a variety of marginal vegetation where water vole are now regularly spotted.
Phase two of the fish easement work in Marlborough enables fish to access a new channel from the Mill Pool to the main river. The sarsen-lined bypass channel provides an additional length of stream and a new spawning habitat. In due course this will be colonised by a range of species that prefer fast-moving water.
The project is one of three which make up ARK's Habitat Improvement. ARK have worked in Cooper's Meadow in partnership with, or advice from: Vaughan Lewis (Windrush AEC), Wild Trout Trust, Marlborough River Restoration Scheme Partnership, Marlborough Town Council, Environment Agency and other funders and advisors.