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RSPB Project Wins UK Top Ecology Award

Great Bells Farm Habitat Creation Project, Isle of Sheppey, Kent

RSPB wetland habitat creation project on the Isle of Sheppey wins one of Britain’s top professional ecology awards

Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management Awards 2014

Today, Thursday 26 June 2014, an RSPB habitat creation project on the Isle of Sheppey on the north coast of Kent was announced as the winner of a coveted award from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) at an exclusive luncheon at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens hosted by comedienne and Absolutely Fabulous actress Helen Lederer, with guest speaker, leading independent environmentalist Chris Baines.

CIEEM is the leading professional membership body representing and supporting ecologists and environmental managers in Britain and abroad. The CIEEM Awards celebrate excellence in the field, honouring individuals, organisations and projects that demonstrate exemplary and inspirational best practice in their industry, with previous winners including Sir David Attenborough.

The Great Bells Farm Habitat Creation project on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent won the CIEEM NGO Impact Award. This award recognises the achievement of NGOs in delivering specified initiatives that have a major impact benefiting nature. Working in partnership with the Environment Agency, the RSPB has created 160 hectares of new freshwater wetland habitat on arable land using cost-saving methods and resources.

Funding for freshwater wetland habitat creation from the Environment Agency is capped at £15,000 per hectare and the RSPB were able to complete the design and construction of the project for £3,000 per hectare. Following a competitive tender process, construction of the wetland habitats involved the use of innovative GPS equipment to accurately excavate the wetland site. In order to keep the newly established habitats fed during the dry summer months a 100% fish-friendly water pump system was introduced to the site, which is the first non-commercial use of such a pump in the UK, setting a precedent of best practice for future work by the Environment Agency.

The Great Bells Farm Habitat Creation project is already seeing a positive increase in figures of breeding wildfowl and wading birds across the period of 2010-2013 with renewed presence of gadwalls, mute swans, shovelers and avocets. Numbers of breeding lapwings have now exceeded the threshold of supporting a viable population and there has been more than double the number of breeding oystercatchers.

Sally Hayns, Chief Executive of CIEEM says “With more categories than ever before, this year’s awards ceremony is an opportunity for us to shine a light on individuals and organisations across the country who are leading and developing pioneering ecology projects and research, many of which have made a substantial impact in protecting and enhancing Britain’s biodiversity.”

4th July 2014