Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Sunday, 20 July 2008 13:44 UK

RSPB appeal to rejuvenate wetland

Little egret - pic Jodie Randall (
Bird species are being pushed north from Europe by climate change

A 1.4m appeal has been launched by the RSPB to buy and restore 600 acres of the Lydden Valley in the hope it will benefit birds moving north from Europe.

It believes species like the little egret and the little bittern could soon be mixing with more familiar birds like lapwing, reed bunting and water rail.

It wants to restore the area, near Sandwich in Kent, to a wildlife-rich wetland, as it was 50 years ago.

The RSPB would return much of it to grazing marsh and reed bed.

It also plans to raise water levels by disabling the drains, and restore the land's ancient network of "grips" - shallow meandering watercourses that provide vital feeding areas for wader chicks.

'Another world'

Doing so would create a home for native birds and other wildlife like water voles and brown hares, while its position near the English Channel would offer a convenient refuge for species being pushed north by climate change.

Alan Parker, RSPB Kent Reserves manager, described it as the most exciting opportunity he had ever seen.

"I've been talking to some of the people who grew up in the villages and farms in this area, and the wildlife they describe here when they were young sounds like another world.

"Species that have declined could be seen regularly."

Mr Parker added that it was one of the few places in the South East where the drainage process could be easily reversed.

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