'Bluelight' for Eelscapes

We are pleased to announce that Eelscapes - restoring the Severn Vale’s wetland mosaics’ – has been awarded Defra funding to develop a landscape recovery scheme for the Severn Vale. The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust lead the project, with partners the Environment Agency, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and 14 land managers.

Eelscapes is an innovative and nationally significant project aiming to create a series of connected wetland sites along the Severn Vale corridor. Our vision is to restore naturally functioning, climate resilient floodplain wetlands. This will help to support the recovery of iconic and threatened species which depend on the wetlands, including critically threatened species such as the European Eel and true fox-sedge.

Communities alongside the floodplains could also benefit. Restoration work could help with climate adaptation, create new opportunities for recreation and engagement as well as generate new sustainable business and investment opportunities for landowners and the private sector.

The project is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how landscape-scale conservation can be delivered across areas of complex and multiple landownership, with the aim of developing a model for large-scale floodplain restoration which can be replicated in other catchments across the UK.

The project is at an early stage, and will focus on various assessments over the next two years, including modelling, to help us to better understand what might be possible and to inform the development of plans. Any subsequent work on the ground would depend on successful completion of this development phase, and on securing funding/investment for delivery.

Project partners have agreed pilot locations with 14 land managers and will be investigating several options in this early development phase of the project.

WWT Senior Project Manager, Ellie Jones said:

We are delighted to have been successful in securing a Landscape Recovery Project Development Grant for Eelscapes and are looking forward to starting work on this project in earnest in 2023. This scheme represents one of the most exciting and ambitious opportunities for large-scale wetland conservation in my lifetime, and in the face of growing climate pressures it is now more important than ever that we shine on a light on the multiple benefits that healthy wetlands provide to both people and wildlife. We are confident that our partnership can develop innovative, sustainable plans for floodplain restoration in the Severn Vale which support the recovery of iconic and threatened species, whilst creating opportunities for communities, sustainable business and investment

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Ecosystem Recovery Manager, Anna Tarbet concluded by saying:

As well as delivering significant gains for species and habitat recovery, Eelscapes has the potential to act as a catalyst, demonstrating new models of land management through the promotion of sustainable practises, underpinned by the restoration of natural processes. We are very excited to bring together the skills and knowledge from across the partnership in the development of the scheme over the next two years.

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