Wetland restoration by the RSPB – what has it achieved for birds?

Published on 06 June 2019 in Main articles

By Malcolm Ausden, Graham Hirons, Graham White and Leigh Lock

Abstract During 1990–2015, the RSPB acquired around 8,750 ha of land on which to restore wetland habitat, mainly to benefit breeding waders of lowland wet grassland, Eurasian Bitterns Botaurus stellaris, and birds associated with intertidal habitats and saline lagoons. This restored land now supports more than 10% of the UK breeding populations of Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis, Eurasian Bitterns, Common Cranes Grus grus, Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta, Cetti’s Warblers Cettia cetti and Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus. It supports a high proportion of the Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, Common Redshanks Tringa totanus and Common Snipes Gallinago gallinago that breed on lowland wet grassland in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and also provides breeding habitat for potential colonists, including various herons and Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus. The future challenges for wetland restoration are maintaining the availability of early successional habitat; ensuring low levels of predation on ground-nesting birds; adapting to changes in climate; securing funding and reducing the unit costs of wetland management; and ensuring the robust implementation of policies supportive of future wetland restoration.

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Eurasian Bittern Alan Harris