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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 09:03 GMT
Wetlands marking important status
Salthouse Marshes in North Norfolk
North Norfolk wetlands are one of 20 protested sites in the region
Internationally important wildlife sites in the east of England are celebrating 35 years of protection.

They include Hamford Water - Essex, Lee Valley - Essex/Herts, Deben Estuary and Minsmere - Suffolk, Ouse Washes and Wicken Fen - Cambs and N Norfolk Coast.

Their status was established by a convention signed at Ramsar in Iran on 2 February 1971.

They have also helped save declining bird species including Cirl Bunting, Stone Curlew and Grey Partridge.

Government ecologist Monica O'Donnell said: "These so-called Ramsar sites - named after the city where the convention was signed - are especially important wetland habitats but their futures had been under threat.

Our wetlands are a valuable part of the landscape, and it's clear that we need to take action now to save these precious habitats and the wildlife they support.
Jim Knight

"The convention helped to recognise their importance and safeguard their futures."

The sites now are funded through a variety of Government schemes and have become important for the preservation of wildlife species, grass margins, hedgerows and traditional countryside features like dry stone walls.

International Wetland Day is now celebrated on 2 February when a spotlight is turned onto these sites.

Funding for schemes

Ms O'Donnell said: "Some sites have evolved through nature, while others have been created by human activities, such as drainage and mineral extraction, but they all offer a rich and varied habitat to wildlife.

"Funding through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmentally Sensitive Areas funding, as well as the new Environmental Stewardship schemes, will help restore and maintain these Ramsar sites for future generations."

Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said: "Our wetlands are a valuable part of the landscape, and it's clear that we need to take action now to save these precious habitats and the wildlife they support.

"This is a timely project that addresses the real problems that real people are facing, and makes an important contribution to our efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010."


SEE ALSO:
Land order to save birds upheld
26 May 04 |  Norfolk


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