04 December 2017

GWCT receives funding for new Avon Valley project

Water Vole In Hole 2

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has received funding for an exciting new project in the Avon Valley.

As well as carrying out vitally-important work on Waders for Real, a team of ecologists from GWCT have started research on Ellingham Floodplain Restoration Project, which consists of species in rich-wet grassland and rush-pasture such as breeding waders, wintering wildfowls, otters and water voles.

Based in Somerley Estate and funded by Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund, the project, like Waders for Real, aims to reverse the decline in breeding lapwing and redshank, by the creation of hotspot sites with ideal habitat and management over the next 12 months.

The numbers of breeding waders in the Avon Valley have declined dramatically, with declines of 64% in lapwing, 75% in redshank and 97% in snipe between 1982-2002. Similar declines have been seen across many other lowland wet grassland sites throughout Britain.  Falls have also been seen within aquatic communities and for species including salmon, roach, perch and eel.

Due to these alarming figures, breeding waders have become a priority species in the valley, and GWCT ecologists aim to further enhance habitat in and around the favoured nesting fields by creating six scrapes to hold water into spring and through selective pollarding of trees and scrub removal to open-up the landscape.

The management of these fields should also make them more attractive to snipe, teal and wigeon in winter. A relict oxbow has been reinstated which lies 800m from a Tarmac aggregates site, to benefit fish, particularly roach, and aquatic invertebrates.

Project ecologist Lizzie Grayshon explains: “The GWCT has been working in the valley for 20 years, undertaking surveys, raising awareness of issues and working with landowners to initiate change.

“We host regular meetings with farmers and landowners at least once a year and, having built trust, we have started to initiate habitat restoration projects through the LIFE Waders for Real project and the Ellingham Floodplain Restoration project.”

Matthew Pixton, estates manager at Tarmac, said: “We're delighted to have supported a project which is so beneficial to local biodiversity. Supporting, protecting and encouraging wildlife and biodiversity is something we strive to do across the whole of our business, and funding this project isa great opportunity to continue this commitment.

“We're really looking forward to working with the GWCT going forward on similar projects."

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Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line - at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Joel Holt
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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