Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 12:56 UK

Nature reserve landscaping starts

Redshank will benefit from habitat improvements

Heavy machinery has been brought in to begin landscaping a new nature reserve for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Essex.

The RSPB bought 256 hectares (640 acres) of grassland and salt marsh on Canvey Island from William Morrison Supermarkets in May 2006.

It is the last remaining green space on Canvey Island and the RSPB wants to make it a haven for wildlife.

Work includes a nature trail, viewing points and picnic areas.

Once the works are completed, the new reserve is set to open to the public in summer 2010.

Nesting birds

The RSPB hopes to encourage wildlife to flourish allowing visitors to enjoy the flocks of wetland birds, butterflies and wild flowers.

The area includes 30 hectares (74 acres) of salt marsh at Benfleet Creek, west of the bridge on to Canvey Island.

The salt marsh here is known to support a high density of nesting redshanks and lapwings.

About 80% of the coastal grazing marsh in Essex has been lost since the 1930s, due to a combination of conversion to arable, building and landfill sites.

The purchase in 2006 was made possible by funding from the East of England Development Agency, Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust and the Department for Communities and Local Government's Thames Gateway Programme.

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