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Curlews fly free on Dartmoor as part of project to save iconic species

Curlews fly free on Dartmoor as part of project to save iconic species

A project run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust alongside partners to prevent the disappearance of curlew on Dartmoor has been boosted by the release of a group of new young birds.

WWT Blue Carbon work on Prince of Wales website showcasing top innovations to help combat climate change

WWT Blue Carbon work on Prince of Wales website showcasing top innovations to help combat climate change

A stunning short film showcasing the importance of wetlands with a focus on our blue carbon work at WWT Steart Marshes has been made by the film production branch of HRH Prince Charles’ Sustainable Market Initiative.

Glowing report for Generation Wild at the end of a busy school year

Glowing report for Generation Wild at the end of a busy school year

As schools around the country break for their summer holidays, it’s a clear A+ in the end of term report for Generation Wild – the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s innovative nature-connection programme for children from economically disadvantaged areas. At the end of its first year, Generation Wild has already: brought 12,500 children from more than 150 schools to one of seven participating WWT sites to help create a lifelong desire to protect and care for nature delivered more than 350 Generation Wild school visit sessions inspired an amazing 24,500 nature connection activities to be completed in school grounds, gardens and local green and blue spaces Generation Wild uses the story of Ava, half-girl, half-bird, to help children connect with nature through storytelling and adventure. The children learn about Ava in the classroom before a visit to one of seven participating WWT sites, where they meet her in the form of a beautifully crafted puppet – and then follow her adventures using special “translatorphones” around the reserve. They complete Ava’s nature activities back at home and school in a quest to become “Guardians of the Wild”. The long-term impact of the project will be assessed by researchers from Cardiff University but in the meantime fantastic feedback from children and schools taking part has already shown the success of the project. This includes 100% of teachers saying they would recommend it to colleagues. Other comments included: “Absolutely fabulous – the children were totally engaged and captivated” “This was absolutely magical for the children…they recognised Ava from the story and were thrilled to meet her” “The children were mesmerised by Ava in her giant nest. They were excited to see her there and were inspired to help her” Nature-based activities form an integral part of the school visits and top of the list for popularity with the children was building a nest, followed by meeting a mini-beast and listening to bird calls. Other popular activities including making friends with a tree and hiding a stone – but according to WWT’s National Learning Manager Mark Stead, all the nature activities went down well: “Overall, the Generation Wild programme has been extremely well received by teachers and families,” he said. “Participation levels have been good – which is particularly pleasing considering that the early stages of year one delivery were still significantly impacted upon by Covid. “Where we have tried something innovative and potentially risky, it has paid off,” he added. “The Ava story, puppet and translatorphones have been incredibly well received. They provide an added element of magic, which the children love.” Mark also said that the dual-heritage element of Ava was seen as a particular strength, allowing non-white children to see something of themselves in Ava and find the project relevant to them. The project has been successful in reaching new audiences - with nearly half the schools taking part in Generation Wild completely new to WWT. “While we’re really pleased with how Year One has gone, we recognise there’s still plenty of ways to make this project even better in Year Two and this is what we’ll be focusing on now,” said Mark. “We’ve had such a positive response from schools, I know we’ll see plenty of them back again with new classes and Ava is looking forward to welcoming them back in the new school year!”

Swans sacrifice rest to squabble

Swans sacrifice rest to squabble

Swans give up resting time to fight over the best feeding spots, new research by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the University of Exeter shows.

New plan calls for urban wetlands to help ‘level up’ inequalities in wellbeing

New plan calls for urban wetlands to help ‘level up’ inequalities in wellbeing

Creating wildlife-rich wetlands like ponds, streams, wetland parks and rain gardens in deprived urban communities could help level up inequalities in wellbeing across the UK, according to a new report launched today.

Farmers help save critically endangered curlews in Severn and Avon Vale meadows

Farmers help save critically endangered curlews in Severn and Avon Vale meadows

Farmers have joined forces with conservationists from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG) and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership to help save the curlew.

Critically endangered black-tailed godwits thrown lifeline in the Fens

Critically endangered black-tailed godwits thrown lifeline in the Fens

Today (28 June) sees the final release of hand-raised black-tailed godwits as part of an emergency intervention which has thrown the critically endangered wetland bird a lifeline and helped increase its chances of survival.

Become a Wetland Ranger this Summer

Become a Wetland Ranger this Summer

Families can join in the fun to become Junior Wetland Rangers at seven of our WWT Wetland Centres this summer holiday.

“Gibellula Bangbangus” - Castle Espie finds species new to science

“Gibellula Bangbangus” - Castle Espie finds species new to science

A fungus discovered in an old Victorian gunpowder store at WWT Castle Espie has been revealed as a completely new species – and named Gibellula Bangbangus by BBC Springwatch viewers. The parasitic fungus was found growing on a cave spider by WWT volunteer Jonathan Clark during filming for Winterwatch, which came from Castle Espie earlier in the year. Since then, a DNA test carried out on the fungus by Dr Harry Evans from CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International) has identified the species as completely new to science. This was revealed on Springwatch this week, with viewers being asked to help name the strange new species. Although many viewers suggested ‘Gibellula Clark’ after the volunteer who discovered the fungus, last night it was revealed that the fungus would be known as Gibellula Bangbangus, in honour of its discovery in a gunpowder store. The unusual fungus parasitizes the host cave spider controlling the spider’s central nervous system, guiding the spider to the top of the cave where the fungus then releases its spores. In addition to the fungi’s ability to control the spider’s brain it produces antibodies that weaken its immune system whilst protecting the host from infection. This may have significant use in medical research with samples now being stored in the same facility as the original penicillin culture. The closest genetic relatives to the fungus are found only in Asia raising questions as to how this fungus found its way to the old Victorian gunpowder store at Castle Espie to evolve into a species new to science. Manager of Castle Espie, Paul Stewart said “It’s a mystery how this new species got here to evolve in the microclimate of the gunpowder store at Castle Espie. “Perhaps it came here via gun powder or its packaging material in the 19th Century or perhaps it’s an example of convergent evolution and a remnant from our subtropical distant past. Either way it’s a world first here in Northern Ireland and I hope the discovery yields a positive benefit.”

WWT joins politicians to bring an end to toxic lead pollution

WWT joins politicians to bring an end to toxic lead pollution

WWT has joined forces with a new cross-party group of parliamentarians and Wildlife and Countryside Link on the toxic impact of lead ammunition pollution.

MPs and peers visit tranquil urban wetlands of WWT London Wetland Centre to hear about the wellbeing benefits

MPs and peers visit tranquil urban wetlands of WWT London Wetland Centre to hear about the wellbeing benefits

On 7th June 2022 the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Wetlands, chaired by Slimbridge MP Siobhan Baillie, held its first in-person meeting.

WWT Steart Marshes becomes part of the new Somerset Wetlands – England’s largest ‘Super National Nature Reserve’

WWT Steart Marshes becomes part of the new Somerset Wetlands – England’s largest ‘Super National Nature Reserve’

England’s second sNNR has been declared in Somerset by Natural England on the 70th anniversary of the creation of national nature reserves.

Published today - Government’s proposed new restrictions on use of lead ammunition over all environments in Britain

Published today - Government’s proposed new restrictions on use of lead ammunition over all environments in Britain

On Friday 6 May the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as part of the UK REACH process, has published its dossier or ‘report’ with recommendations on restricting the use of all lead ammunition over all types of landscape in England, Scotland and Wales.

Help raise funds for wetlands by joining The Big Green Hike

Help raise funds for wetlands by joining The Big Green Hike

WWT supporters can raise funds to protect and restore wetlands by joining a new, nationwide sponsored walk called the Big Green Hike.

IPCC highlights the multiple benefits of restoring wetlands to combat climate change

IPCC highlights the multiple benefits of restoring wetlands to combat climate change

A report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reinforced the importance of restoring and creating wetland habitats, such as saltmarsh, in order to combat climate change as well as deliver multiple other benefits.