RSPB lodges Natural World Heritage site bid for wetlands area


An application has been submitted by the RSPB for wetlands along the east coast of Britain to become a Natural World Heritage site.

The bid includes the Humber Estuary, which separates Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, south through Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to the Thames Estuary in Kent. The charity said a wide range of species use it as "an essential home and refuge" during migration journeys. It has been submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. A decision on whether it will be added to the UK's Tentative List of World Heritage sites is expected early next year.

A report found the east coast had "outstanding universal value" for wintering waders like Red Knot (Jim Mountain).

A report, by marine and coastal habitat consultants ABPmer, found the east coast had "outstanding universal value" due its world class network of coastal wetlands which support globally important migratory bird populations, the RSPB said.

One billion birds are reliant on the area, which covers 170,000 ha, to shelter from the harsh winter conditions in Scandinavia, Canada, Greenland and Siberia. The shorelines include a "a rich buffet of invertebrates" for birds to feed on, and its marshes are places to fish and for tourists to visit, the report said.

Adam Rowlands, RSPB England area manager for Suffolk, said: "In Suffolk the coastal estuaries will be welcoming large numbers of Brent Goose, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit and Red Knot for the winter, while coastal marshes will ring to the whistling cries of Eurasian Wigeon, rubbing shoulders with beautiful Northern Pintail."

The UK has two Natural World Heritage sites: the Dorset and East Devon Coast and the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. If successful, the east coast could join some of the world's most iconic sites including the Great Barrier Reef, the Galápagos Islands and Mount Kilimanjaro.

The application has the support of the National Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, local authorities and The Crown Estate, the RSPB added.