Importance of wetlands highlighted by Sussex Wildlife Trust

SUSSEX Wildlife Trust (SWT) was highlighting its hard work to save the county’s last remaining wetlands as World Wetlands Day took place on Thursday February 2.

Thanks to a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, SWT wetlands landscape officer Fran Southgate found out how much rare wetland was left in Sussex and restored some of it to its former glory.

Fran said: “The results of our two-year survey are alarming. We only have 8,000 hectares of wetlands left in the county – that’s just 0.02 percent, although this includes some international rare gems like chalk streams.

“Apart from supporting an astonishing array of aquatic wildlife such as otters and kingfishers, our wetlands provide us with essential natural resources.

“They help protect us against flooding, provide drinking water, reduce soil erosion, clean up pollution and slow down climate change by storing carbon dioxide.

“As well as just being beautiful places to visit, these soggy bits of Sussex are vital in providing people and wildlife with their day to day needs.”

The project also helped recreate and improve several major wetland areas across the county, as well as restoring rare chalk streams and damaged river courses.

More than 20 hectares of floodplain meadow has been restored along the River Ouse, providing flower-rich habitats for butterflies and bees, as well as helping to store and clean floodwater.

Also thanks to a team of volunteers the project planted more than 3,500 trees across Sussex, including alongside the River Ouse near Sheffield Park, creating valuable floodplain woodland for wildlife including bats, otters and rare black poplar trees.