We're joining 20 other nature organisations calling for urgent measures to help lift England’s rivers, lakes and streams from the bottom of the water quality league table, and warn that drastic action is needed to restore wildlife habitat. Every freshwater body in England currently fails chemical standards and only 16% are classed in good ecological health compared to 53% on average in the EU. A new report by Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Blueprint for Water group warns that climate change is worsening conditions for our already beleaguered waters: increased water-use during droughts and damage caused by flooding, both becoming more frequent due to climate change, are compounding the existing problems of overuse and chemical, sewage and plastic pollution for our waters. WWT’s Head of Policy and Advocacy Tom Fewins backed the action and said the Government should adopt wetlands as a “powerful weapon” in the fight to restore our missing wildlife. He added this should include backing WWT’s Wetlands Can! campaign calling for the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands across the country. Tom said: “The world faces a biodiversity crisis: in the UK alone, over half of freshwater and wetland species are declining with 13% at risk of extinction. Poor water quality is helping to fuel this and the UK is very likely to miss its targets to address it. “We must urgently turn this situation around – and that should include looking to the ‘nature based solutions’ that wetlands provide. “This includes their amazing ability to improve water quality by filtering out a wide range of pollutants, something WWT has found out over the many years we have been creating ‘treatment’ wetlands specifically for this purpose. With a biodiversity crisis upon us the Government must now adopt wetlands as a powerful weapon in the fight to restore our missing wildlife. This means putting together the partnerships, information, plans and funding in place to create and restore 100,000ha wetlands as part of a Blue Recovery.” The report – called Blueprint Vision: a freshwater recovery plan for England, poses three main challenges for the Government: RESTORE water and wildlife through large-scale, strategic habitat restoration, protecting and enhancing wildlife hotspots. CLEAN-UP pollution with an effective and fully resourced monitoring and enforcement regime, driven by ambitious targets. RE-THINK our relationship with water to build a sustainable system, delivering climate resilience, water security, and health and well-being benefits for our communities. Ali Morse, Water Policy Manager at The Wildlife Trusts, and Chair of Blueprint for Water, said: “Nature and society are already paying the price for the over-use and pollution of our waters and wetlands - wildlife is struggling to survive, our rivers are not safe to swim and play in, and as customers we pay millions to clean up water so that it’s safe to drink. And that price is going to get even steeper as we feel the effects of climate change. “We’re facing a hazardous future of water shortages, flood damage and the loss of iconic species like the water vole and Atlantic salmon in England. We should all be worried that none of our rivers, lakes or streams are in good health and we have among the worst water quality in Europe. It’s time for a new vision for English waters, with adequate investment, robust pollution prevention and sustainable water use.”
Discover the fascinating story of Sir Peter Scott's life and learn about some of his more unusual achievements and passions, from his interest with the Loch Ness monster to the fish that shares his name.
On a bright December morning in 1945 two men watched a large flock of geese feeding on the banks of the river Severn in Gloucestershire. As they watched they noticed that the flock contained several different species of geese.
WWT’s Flourishing Floodplains project has been awarded a £867,600 grant from the Government’s £40 million second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a multi-million pound boost for green jobs and nature recovery.
With many families holidaying at home this year, visitors can get a taste of the exotic at WWT Wetland Centres across the UK this summer.
Increasing access to blue spaces in our urban areas should be an integral part of the “levelling up” agenda, according to a new Environment Agency report – one which WWT strongly supports as part of our Wetlands Can! campaign.
WWT is today launching a major new public campaign Wetlands Can! urging people to get behind our call for the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands in the UK to help combat the climate, nature and wellbeing crisis.
WWT is part of a group set to develop a new “Saltmarsh Code” that could pave the way for £1 billion investment in restoring England’s degraded saltmarshes in order to mitigate climate change, support wildlife and reduce flood risk.
Two new reports that highlight the urgent need for the Government to act and deliver on its promises to tackle climate change and ensure we can adapt to the challenges we face have been welcomed by WWT.
WWT has welcomed the Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk report released by the Climate Change Committee which states clearly that we cannot deliver net zero without tackling the nature crisis. Healthy wetlands were mentioned at the report’s launch alongside peat and woodlands as having a vital role in fighting climate change. The Climate Change Committee’s assessment is independent advice which the government will use to inform its decision making. These reports are published every five years and set out not only the risks but also the opportunities facing the UK from climate change. In a blog about the report the Green Alliance said this was “the clearest and most alarming picture yet of what the changing climate could mean for the future of the UK” and that it should send “shockwaves” through the government. In the report, the committee identifies eight priority risk areas which need immediate attention - at the latest in the next two years. These are: Risks to the viability and diversity of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species from multiple hazards Risks to soil health from increased flooding and drought Risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards, leading to increased emissions Risks to crops, livestock and commercial trees from multiple climate hazards Risks to supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks Risks to people and the economy from climate-related failure of the power system Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings Multiple risks to the UK from climate change impacts overseas At the launch of the report, the chair of the committee Baroness Brown said: “The severity of the risks we face must not be underestimated. These risks will not disappear as the world moves to Net Zero; many of them are already locked in.” In particular, she drew attention to the urgent need for adaptation to tackle the crisis – saying that at the moment it was the “Cinderella of climate change”. She specifically mentioned wetlands in her call for adaptation: “We cannot rely on nature to sequester carbon unless we ensure that our peat and our trees and our wetlands are healthy, not only today but in the climate conditions we will all be experiencing in the future,” she said. WWT’s senior policy and advocacy officer Hannah Freeman said the committee had done a good job in highlighting not only the scale of the risks we face, but also the opportunities that are there to reduce that risk. “One of these is investing in nature based solutions and at WWT we are calling for investing in wetland saltmarsh restoration and creation which will not only store carbon but also provide other benefits including buffering storm surges and reducing flooding,” she said “The report highlighted that one of the highest risks is the risk to nature and natural carbon stores - to tackle that we need to invest in nature to make it healthy and resilient, which will, in turn reduce the impact on human health and wellbeing. “The report highlights that in order to meet net zero, nature in the UK needs to absorb 8 megatonnes of carbon and we need to invest in nature to achieve this.” WWT are calling for the creation and restoration of 100,000ha of wetlands as part of our Blue Recovery to overcome the climate, nature and wellbeing crises we are experiencing. We need Government to adopt policies and funding mechanisms that support wetland creation and restoration such as saltmarsh for carbon sequestration, natural flood management, health and well-being and water quality.
A new Radio 4 drama that uses the story of a fictional nature reserve to highlight the vital role wetlands can play in fighting the climate crisis starts next week. The Song of the Reed stars Mark Rylance and Sophie Okonedo and will play out in four different episodes – one for each season of the year. The first, on Monday 21 June, introduces us to Fleggwick reserve and the characters that the four-part series revolves around. According to the BBC website, Fleggwick, like the ecosystem it protects, is under threat. The site was not financially sustainable when its founder passed away so his daughter Liv needs to find a way for it to survive. Recorded on location at RSPB’s Strumpshaw Fen, the story is “informed by the real work and science of conservation taking place in the face of rapid environmental change in the wetlands of Norfolk, and everywhere”. In a Guardian article about the production, Sir Mark Rylance said he was calling on the arts to help solve the climate crisis by telling stories that persuade people to “fall in love with nature again” and prompt government to back green policies. Mark said he became interested in wetlands during lockdown, having discovered from WWT that “over the last 500 years we’ve lost or built on 90% of them” and they are a “good carbon sink” as well as a potential biodiversity network to link up wildlife migrating north due to rising temperatures. This message sits right at the heart of WWT’s Blue Recovery plan – and Mark told the Guardian that he hoped the series would draw attention to our campaign. He also said that he personally tried to do as much voluntary eco-work as possible and that he would be donating his fee from the BBC to WWT. WWT’s Head of Policy and Advocacy Tom Fewins said he was looking forward to the series. “It’s great that Radio 4 is using drama in this way to draw people’s attention to the importance of nature in fighting the climate crisis and that in this case they are using wetlands as a back drop to do so. “Wetlands are amazing – from great sweeping salt marshes to humble urban rain gardens they provide a wide range of ‘nature-based solutions’ to not just the climate and nature crisis, but the wellbeing crisis too. This is why WWT is putting the restoration and creation of more than 100,000 hectares of wetlands at the heart of its Blue Recovery plan to build back better after Covid-19. “I am looking forward to listening to Song of the Reed next week and to following the drama when the other episodes are released later in the year”. The first episode of Song of the Reed will be broadcast on Monday 21 June at 2pm and will be available to download shortly after. The remaining three episodes will air later in the year.
Environment Secretary George Eustice made a major speech today on the UK Government’s plans to protect and restore nature, tackle the climate and biodiversity crises and help deliver Net Zero by 2050.
A WWT site, Castle Espie Wetland Centre in Northern Ireland, has been selected as one of three brand new live locations across the UK to host Springwatch, BBC Two’s popular and long running wildlife programme.
New YouGov research, released by the Mental Health Foundation, has found 65 % of people find being near water improves their mental wellbeing and is their favourite part of nature
WWT experts have contributed to a major new report highlighting the importance of nature-based solutions to reaching Net Zero, hitting biodiversity targets, and adapting to climate change.