Page last updated at 23:21 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 00:21 UK

Call for regeneration of wetlands

The partnership said England needs thousands of new acres of wetlands

Large areas of wetlands must be created over the next 50 years to safeguard wildlife, counteract climate change and reduce flooding, say conservationists.

The Wetland Vision Partnership has drawn up maps of potential sites where new wetland areas could be created.

The group, including Natural England and the Environment Agency, says England has lost 90% of its wetland areas over the past 1,000 years.

Natural England is to give up to 2m a year for three years to build wetlands.

Dramatic decline

The maps show lost English wetlands and potential new areas, ranging from urban sites, which may be as small as local ponds, to the recreation of huge fenland areas.

According to the partnership, the most dramatic decline in English wetlands has happened since the Industrial Revolution.

Project manager Carrie Hume said that if the UK invested in wetlands, the country would reap huge benefits.

Wetlands contain some of England's most significant heritage
Carrie Hume, Wetland Vision Partnership

She said: "In the right place, wetlands offer natural flood storage and improved water quality, lock away huge amounts of carbon, provide havens for wildlife and fantastic places for people to visit and enjoy.

"What is more, wetlands contain some of England's most significant heritage, including the remains of plants and animals, which help us to understand past environments and unique artefacts made from materials like wood or textiles, which are preserved in these wetland sites."

Alistair Burn, Natural England's freshwater specialist, said wetland regeneration could save about 400,000 tonnes of carbon a year.

Current schemes include the Great Fen Project to create 3,700 hectares of wetland between Huntingdon and Peterborough, and the Hanson RSPB Wetland Project in Cambridgeshire, which is restoring a working quarry into a 700-hectare wetland.

Chris Gerrard, of the Wildlife Trusts, said the challenge for the government was to acknowledge the economic, social and environmental contribution of wild landscapes.

The government must "find room in a landscape policy for them alongside the important provision of food production", he said.

The Pitt Review into last year's flooding recently recommended flood management which worked with nature to slow flood water and keep it away from urban areas.

Also members of the Wetland Vision Partnership are the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and English Heritage

RSPB unveils its latest reserve
13 Feb 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Wetland restored with 8.9m grant
01 Aug 07 |  Cambridgeshire


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