Spirit of the South: Why the River Meon is England's answer to rainforests

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Holly Green explores the River Meon from source to sea

The South is a special part of the country with stunning coastlines, wonderful woodlands and waterways.

ITV News Meridian is celebrating this part of the world with our annual series called 'Spirit of the South', showcasing the region and some of the hidden treasures it holds.

River Meon Credit: ITV News Meridian

When we think of the planet's most important habitats, we might think of the Amazon rainforests or Siberian tundra.

However there is an environment of equal significance right on our doorstep. 

Chalk streams are fed from underground chalk aquifers giving them incredibly pure water with very little temperature variation through the seasons and the majority of these precious habitats are found here in the south.

River Meon Credit: ITV News Meridian

The water in the River Meon has been filtering through the chalk hills for around 40 years.

Nowadays chalk streams face many challenges such as abstraction, pollution and climate change.

Amy Ellis from the Wessex Rivers Trust said: "They are so unique because they have crystal clear waters coming into the streams which is really good for our aquatic plants.

"This in turn is fantastic for the invertebrates."

The chalk waters enter Titchfield Haven

But some say the chalk stream doesn't always get the recognition and protection it deserves.

Chris Lycett from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: "We've got some really nice species on the Meon. We've got kingfisher, brown trout, and there's been the reintroduction of the water vole."

The river bed changes to clay and sands as it goes into Titchfield Haven, a neighbouring nature reserve.

As the water flows into the sea, it begins a brand new journey.