The Wye Habitat Improvement Project (1998 - 2004) WHIP was the Foundation’s first major project. It was also our first foray into European funding and the complexities that come with it. Using funds from the European Agriculture and Guidance Fund (EAGGF), WHIP enabled significant amounts of work to be carried out on Wye tributaries whose habitat had been degraded. Read more about habitat degradation. WHIP’s objectives The project’s main objective was to increase the salmon production in Wye tributaries by restoring stream habitat. But also underpinning this work was a means by which the tributary owners (upland farmers) could benefit from the improvements to their brown trout fishing following stream restoration - the beginnings of the Fishing Passport. This would provide the economic benefit of environmental work and provide the incentive to look after tributaries in the longer term. Achievements Perhaps the first result of the project was our learning about the chain of consents required to coppice trees, not to mention the concerns of those who believe conservation often equals doing nothing. In addition, unquestionably one of the most important achievements was our establishment of a process that allowed habitats to be repaired and restored, plus seeing fish numbers significantly rise. Within WHIP, we fenced and coppiced, added drinkers, gates and revetments to shore up eroded banks to 25km of stream. These were the Clywedog, Edw, Duhonw and Marteg. We also installed fish passes on the Digedi brook. We developed new techniques for making cost-effective watergates, revetments and a way of fencing certain sections that lie within flood plains. In 1999, WHIP won the Famous Grouse Wild Trout Society Award, with the Foundation's fish pass programme taking second place. In February 2001 Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) resulted in the work force being prohibited from entering farmland. Sadly we had to lay off most of the habitat team save a few key people. With little foreseeable resolution by May, our resolve to persevere resulted in work continuing on the Digedi fish passes, which fortunately could be accessed from the main road. One casualty of FMD was our marketing scheme, which went on hold to be resurrected with our next project (pHish). Conclusion Whether you think the greater achievement of WHIP is primarily 25km coppiced, fenced and repaired stream, or the establishment of method & means is surely a moot point. Until WHIP was established, habitat restoration had just been a wish list on a fisheries plan. Today, restoring our tributary streams is a reality and it started with this project. Project partners We would like to thank the following for their support of the project, either with funding, expertise or contributions in kind: European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund; Welsh Office Regional Development Fund; Game Conservancy Trust; Wye riparian owners (WCC); Environment Agency/Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales); Severn Trent Water; Cardiff University and Radnorshire Wildlife Trust.