02/02/2011
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Wetland scheme is wildlife success

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UK wildlife is benefiting from a massive national wetland restoration scheme, The Wildlife Trusts announced today [2nd February 2011], World Wetlands Day. The work to restore ponds, peat bogs, chalk streams and floodplain grasslands is benefiting more than 40 species, including wading birds such as Curlew, Snipe and Ringed Plover, the rare Great Crested Newt, Nightjar and 12 nationally important species of moth.

Curlew
Curlew, Foryd Bay, Gwynedd (Photo: Chris Downes)

Over the past 12 months, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust alone have surveyed more than 5,000 metres of watercourses for signs of Water Vole and Otter, and restoration work has been carried out on 1,200 metres of chalk stream. Six thousand metres of ditches have been identified for blocking to prevent wetlands from drying out. Together, this is equivalent to the length of 244 Olympic swimming pools and is only a snapshot of the total work carried out by 12 local Wildlife Trusts as part of the a three-year, £1.78m National Wetland Restoration and Flood Alleviation Project, funded by Biffaward.

Nightjar
Nightjar, Fordingbridge, Hampshire (Photo: Martin Bennett)

The 12 schemes showcase delivery of essential wetland restoration across each English region, Wales and Northern Ireland. The programme aims to make significant contributions towards national wildlife targets and efforts to reduce flooding risk, whilst improving public access and enjoyment. The individual Wildlife Trusts involved are:

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  • Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Cumbria Wildlife Trust
  • Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
  • Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
  • London Wildlife Trust
  • Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust
  • Sheffield Wildlife Trust
  • Suffolk Wildlife Trust
  • The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and Black Country
  • Ulster Wildlife Trust
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "Schemes like this are helping to reverse the damage done to our wetlands, which have been in serious decline for several decades and are under major pressure from intensive agriculture and encroaching development. There is no question that wetlands are one of our most important habitats. They help protect us against flooding, encourage long-term water storage underground, help with reducing soil erosion, clean up pollution and store carbon dioxide."

"World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to reflect on their value, and to get out and enjoy them. Many of The Wildlife Trusts' wetlands are alive with wildfowl and wading birds at this time of year, and there is arguably no better place to spend a winter's day than taking in this spectacle."

Common Snipe
Common Snipe, Greylake RSPB, Somerset & Bristol (Photo: Pat Tucker)

Local communities are a central part of the project, with more than 100 people now trained in techniques that will help with wetland conservation and management, from butterfly and dragonfly monitoring to invasive species identification. Such volunteers are a vital part of wetland restoration work. Contact your local Wildlife Trust to find out about opportunities and get involved.

The National Wetland Restoration and Flood Alleviation Project contributes to The Wildlife Trusts' vision for A Living Landscape, which aims to restore, recreate and reconnect the UK's fragmented habitats. At present, the 47 Wildlife Trusts in the UK are involved in more than 100 Living Landscape schemes, many of which include wetland restoration.

With around 2,300 nature reserves to visit, The Wildlife Trusts can offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy World Wetlands Day in natural surroundings. Some of The Wildlife Trusts' best wetland reserves can be found online.

2nd February each year is World Wetlands Day (WWD), marking the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

Written by: The Wildlife Trusts