Waterways in Crisis

There are just over 200 chalk streams globally, 85% of which are found in the UK. The crystal clear waterways – located in the counties of Dorset and Hampshire in Southern England – are the result of rainfall on highly permeable chalk. Water is filtered as it flows down the slopes, emerging rich in minerals and glassy in appearance – a vital resource for plants and animals. “These rare and delicate ecosystems are under threat from numerous stressors including climate change, rising sea levels, pollution from sewage overspill, water abstraction, farmland runoff,” says photographer Ellie Davies (b. 1976), who lives near several such locations. The artist’s most recent series highlights “the grave perils facing these important ecosystems and the critical need to protect them from the pressures humanity is placing upon them.” In the following images, Davies overlays light reflected from the surface of the nearby sea onto river landscapes. “Peaceful waters and arcadian setting bely a darker narrative,” Davies continues. “The transposed light symbolises the coming consequences of climate change and rising sea levels as they insidiously impose themselves on these pristine landscapes, bringing together two places that should never meet.”

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All images courtesy Ellie Davies, from Chalk Streams (2023).