The latest edition of Waterlife from The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust has a fascinating piece on the Paleo Channel work on their reserve at Slimbridge.
JPR have been involved in the project and we have thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck into the work.
“Forging watery corridors between our blue and green spaces creates habitat for wildlife, providing safe passageways for animals to disperse and forage”, says WWT in their article.
This new waterway, which links the nort of the reserve with the south, has been brought back to life for birds, plants, insects and mammals. Wigeon and white-fronted geese were already using this new wetland corridor last winter. This summer, wetland plants started to colonise and more than five different species of dragonflies and damselflies have been seen hovering above the water. Shoals of small fish have attracted grey herons and littel egrets and there have been signs of otters at both ends of the watercourse.
Here is the full article that appeared in The WWT magazine, 214 November 2020/February 2021:
Restoring ancient waterways
Connecting wetlands is one of WWT’s priorities for the future. Forging watery corridors between our blue and green spaces creates habitat for wildlife, providing safe passageways for animals to disperse and forage.
One new waterway – which we created from an old saltmarsh creek at WWT Slimbridge last autumn – has already become a hit with local wildlife.
Linking up the north of the reserve with the south, where the visitor centre is, this ‘palaeo-channel’ has been brought back to life for birds, plants, insects and mammals.
The word palaeo means old or ancient, particularly when referring to geological periods of time. This particular water channel has been cleared and now follows the same route it traced centuries ago, before the marshes were drained.
The new wetland corridor has already been adopted by local wildlife. Last winter, wigeon and white-fronted geese found it much to their liking. This summer, wetland plants started to colonise and more than five different species of dragonflies and damselflies have been seen hovering above the water.
Shoals of small fish have attracted grey herons and little egrets, and a sedge warbler was seen in this newly restored area of the reserve – our first sighting in many decades of recording.
Otter poo – known as spraint – has been found at either end of the watercourse, where it meets the ditches. The new corridor means these enchanting mustelids can now swim along the channel, and no longer have to cross open fields to move between one part of the reserve and another.
This palaeo-channel is part of just over three kilometres of ditches that have been restored or created across the reserve, connecting new areas of wetlands and providing more space for Slimbridge’s diverse wildlife to roam, feed and find a mate. We also hope the new ‘blue corridor’ will be popular with migratory eels and other fish species; linking up the various wetland channels will make it the perfect eel highway.
But our work doesn’t end there. We’re now linking two channels with a pond and a large nesting island intended for cranes. We have also been busy building bunds to run across low-lying areas to make access easier.
Work like this demonstrates that centuries of wetland destruction can be reversed and healthy ecosystems restored. It’s vital to link up wildlife hotspots with blue and green corridors. We continually try to create a positive working balance between farming and wildlife, and believe the two can work hand in hand. Given time, funding and continuing support from others, we can work wonders for wildlife, together.