Reed Bunting, Mike Richards, RSPB
Living wetland receives prestigious award
A community project on the Suffolk-Norfolk border has created an award-winning wildlife-rich river valley, according to judges of a major conservation award.
The Little Ouse Headwaters Project beat a record number of entries to win the prestigious RSPB/CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) Living Wetlands Award.
In the last 200 years there have been radical changes to the course of the Little Ouse. The channel has deepened and much of the valley has become arable farmland.
This project will restore a continuous corridor of wildlife habitat along the headwaters of the river as well as enhance the beauty and recreation value of the valley for the local community.
The benefits have already been seen with a huge range of wildlife including the rare Nathusius's Pipistrelle bat as well as frogs, newts, lizards and snakes.
The project will also secure the future of birds of High Conservation Concern such as turtle dove, song thrush, spotted flycatcher, marsh tit, bullfinch and reed bunting.
The hope for the future is that the new wetlands will also help prevent floods and improve the quality of the water.
The project was founded by members of five parishes and is run by local volunteers of all ages. Dr Jo-Anne Pitt, chair of the project partnership said: "We are delighted by this award. The LOHP is working within the local community to protect a unique landscape and its wildlife.
"We are a voluntary organisation with no paid staff, so this success will be a great encouragement to everyone who has devoted time to the project over the last few years."
The judges of the new award were impressed by the project's ability to create valuable wildlife habitats within a landscape that also benefits the local community.
Little Ouse Headwaters Project
Ruth Davis, Head of Water Policy at the RSPB said: "It was so exciting to find a project of this quality being run by and for local people. Wetlands and the wildlife they support are central to the health of our landscape, and to the quality of people's lives.
"We hope this example will inspire others to start similar schemes – and demonstrate to politicians and civil servants how important our wetland heritage really is."
Justin Taberham of CIWEM, added: "We congratulate all the Award entries this year, in particular the winners, for demonstrating so clearly how wetlands can provide a huge range of benefits.
"They can help manage wastewater, create valuable habitats, provide opportunities for leisure and recreation, and above all, they provide access to a landscape that can be shared by both wildlife and people."
The managers of the Little Ouse Headwaters project will be awarded a specially-commissioned bronze trophy of a snipe and £1,500, which will be used to boost conservation work on the site.
last updated: 26/11/2008 at 13:16
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