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Family-friendly make-it activities to help birds at home

Family-friendly make-it activities to help birds at home

Birds flock to our wetlands in great numbers, which is why nature-loving families come from far and wide to see them, often at the request of a young nature enthusiast.

Small changes for the New Year for a healthier life and a healthier planet

Small changes for the New Year for a healthier life and a healthier planet

How many times have you promised to make a New Year’s resolution, only to falter within the first few days? This year, why not make it easy for yourself and choose something you feel passionate about instead? That way you’re guaranteed to feel better about yourself and about the world. Plus, you’re more likely to stick to it as well. To help you get started we’ve pulled together some great wetland themed ideas: 1. Head to a wetland and beat the winter blues January can be tough on our mental health. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of staying warm and cosy indoors. Yet even in the depths of winter, nature is beckoning us with its healing powers. As the temperature drops, wetlands come to life with over-wintering birds. Combine a sprinkling of frost with low winter sunlight and you’ll quickly discover a magical winter wonderland. So visit a wetland near you and experience the special healing beauty of our magical winter wildlife first hand. 2. Create your own wetland oasis of tranquillity Adding a wetland to a garden is a tried and tested stress-buster. The act of creating a wetland is a great way to tune into the current moment, get physically active and breathe in the fresh air. This time of year is before the breeding season kicks off and when wildlife is most in need of food and water. With 83% of freshwater species in decline worldwide, every little helps. So why not use these quieter gardening months to plan and build a watery space where you can wind down, lose your worries and find calm. 3. Make a world of difference: add your voice to our call for more wetlands Wetlands aren’t just good for us, they’re good for the planet too, locking away carbon and helping combat climate change. New research carried out at WWT Steart show its saltmarshes stored as much carbon over four years as just over one million new trees grown in ten years. This year, help fight climate change by joining our Wetlands Can! campaign and pledge your support for the creation of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands. 4. Inspire the next generation of conservationists The key to protecting our planet’s future lies in encouraging the next generation to value and care for the natural world now. Help nurture your children’s curiosity and love of nature with our tailor-made resources that’ll encourage them to get outside and have fun in wetlands. Together we can be the inspiration for them to want to protect nature and dream of a brighter future for the planet. 5. Make a difference with a small change to your life We know huge changes are needed to address the climate and biodiversity crisis, but there are also small things we can all do to keep our wetlands and wildlife healthy. The products we buy and the day-to-day decisions we make may feel insignificant, but they send a message to companies that we want more sustainable options. Even something as small as being mindful about what you put down your sink can send a powerful message and make an impact. 6. Stay curious and learn something new Challenge yourself to find out something new about your favourite wetland places. There’s plenty of evidence that embracing something new is a great way to keep our minds fit and active, which in turn keeps us happier, healthier and smarter. From learning the sounds of wetland birds to discovering how a place changes with the new season, there’s always a new experience to be had when exploring wetlands. Learn about our wonderful wetlands and why we need them now more than ever. Make a promise for life, not just this year Treat yourself or a loved one to a lifelong membership and help create a brighter future for wetlands and their wildlife. Your unswerving support helps us plan and commit to the essential long-term work we need to do to save wetlands and the threatened species that rely on them. Join for life

Restoring a flooded forest one seedling at a time

Restoring a flooded forest one seedling at a time

Cambodia is known as the kingdom of wetlands. Its seasonally flooded labyrinth of rivers, swamps and islands supports an extraordinary array of wildlife. Its waterways also provide a lifeline for millions, offering a place for people to live, work, travel and trade. These villagers are using them to transport a valuable cargo of hundreds of tiny tree seedlings to their new home as part of a reforestation project being run by WWT. Their destination is Boeung Prek Lapouv, one of the largest remnants of seasonally inundated grasslands in the Lower Mekong Delta. It’s a Protected Landscape – a biological treasure trove, renowned for its many rare birds, including bengal floricans, the sarus crane and the yellow-breasted bunting that come here to forage in the grasslands. The flooded forest is also an important part of the ecosystem, providing valuable fish nurseries and carbon storage. But all is not well in this wetland paradise. The grasslands are under threat and only a fraction of the original flooded forest remains. They’re being drained for rice production, illegally encroached and poisoned by the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The climate here is also changing putting even more pressure on this fragile ecosystem. Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and an increased risk of water shortages from droughts are all playing their part. Now, local communities are working to turn the tide. With help from WWT they’ve established a permanent community-run tree nursery where they’ve collected 1,600 tree seedlings. Six different species of native inundated forest trees were carefully nurtured in the nursery before being planted in a former area of flooded forest known to have been a popular waterbird roost. It’s hoped this project, to create a five hectare area of flooded forest, can be used as a pilot for future planting schemes. In addition to creating valuable flooded forest, WWT and their community partners in Cambodia have also been restoring 25 hectares of grassland in the area. We started by blocking off 24 unused ditches. This has helped reduce the water loss from the grassland and also helped raised groundwater levels. We have also created wetter conditions by lowering the ground in areas of poor quality grassland in order to encourage the sedge-like grass species Eleocharis, the main food item of sarus crane, to establish. In addition, we impounded (built an earth structure around) an eight hectare area of grassland so that water can be retained for longer here at the end of the wet season. We also ploughed a small section to investigate how this would affect grassland plant regeneration. Aerial photograph showing the area enhanced by ground lowering (foreground), surrounded by the impound, and area ploughed for investigation (background) The restored grassland areas will now be monitored for two to three years to assess how effective the restoration has been. This project has taught us a lot in terms of practical wetland restoration knowledge and has brought multiple benefits to future restoration works at the site and also across the region. The grassland and forest restoration is helping to repair the ecosystem, benefiting both biodiversity and the local communities. The techniques and methods used, our successes and lessons learnt, will be shared with other conservation managers across the region, so they can hopefully carry out similar restoration work.

Tutorial: How to make a natural Christmas willow wreath

Tutorial: How to make a natural Christmas willow wreath

Making a wreath base from bendy willow sticks may look complicated, but it’s actually really easy and a wonderful way to decorate your home festively and naturally.

Wetland activities to get the family outdoors this winter

Wetland activities to get the family outdoors this winter

With the school Christmas holidays upon us and two weeks of festive family fun to plan, why not escape the hustle and bustle at our wetland centres? Take in the peaceful stillness of a clear winter’s morning, enjoy the spectacle of thousands of migratory birds or join in the excitement of the otters at feeding time. Whatever you choose to do, it’s a great way to relax, have fun and make memories. For inspiration, we’ve put together a list of ‘seven wonders of wetlands’ for you to discover when you visit our wetlands this winter. 1. See our spectacular winter visitors Our wetlands come alive in winter with thousands of swans, geese and birds arriving to find a home for the colder months. Getting closer to this spectacle at our sites is a truly magical experience for all the family. Our swan feeds are an opportunity to learn all about them from our on-site experts at Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, Martin Mere and Welney. At Slimbridge Wetland Centre the wild bird feed is not to be missed. You’ll discover how far they’ve travelled, how they navigate and where they’ve come from. You’ll even hear stories about individual swans that visit us year after year. Discover more about the winter migration spectacle at our sites 2. Marvel at nature’s wintry beauty Wetlands really are breath-taking at this time of year – in fact, it’s the perfect place for a winter selfie with the wow factor. Dazzling winter light, stunning sunsets and magical murmurations all make our centres the perfect place for capturing some precious family memories and having a go at a bit of wildlife photography. Encourage the kids to join in and see the world through their eyes, it’s always more interesting, and you might just spark a new passion. So who can take the best wildlife picture? Why not have a family photo competition? Just don’t get too competitive! Check out our expert tips for winter photography 3. Escape the hustle and bustle Although Christmas can be magical, this time of year can also be exhausting. Children too can get overwhelmed and tired by the time the Christmas holidays come. Being on our wetlands has been proven to reduce stress and increase wellbeing. So why not bring the whole family along to escape the hustle and bustle? Fresh air, space to run around, no screens (a welcome break for us all) and a valuable chance to be together and enjoy a different kind of festive experience. Our wetlands are also a great place to take some time out for yourself, whether it’s a walk and talk with a friend, or some alone time in the gentle company of wetland nature. Find out more about nature’s healing power 4. Stop, look and listen Children are great at being in the moment, they use all their senses to learn about the world around them. It’s also an integral part of the practice of mindfulness but it’s something we don’t do instinctively as we get older. So get the kids to show you how it’s done, ask them to take you on a senses scavenger hunt around our wetlands for a truly mindful natural experience. At this time of year our reserves are full of visiting birds. Listening is an important mindfulness skill (you might find you’re better at this one than the kids!) so keep an ear out and use our audio guide to distinguish your Bewick swans from your Whoopers. 5. Come and enjoy a winter adventure There’s nothing like wrapping up warm and getting out there for a winter adventure. So blow the winter cobwebs away and join us for some family fun. From winter trails to wild walks and even a secret swamp to explore at our centre in Castle Espie. Not forgetting our all-time favourite winter activity – puddle jumping (you’re never too old, right?) you could even get in some practice and perfect your splashes in time for our Puddle Jumping Championship event, running at some of our sites during February half term. And then - if you needed one - you’ve got the perfect excuse to head to one of our cosy cafes to warm up afterwards. 6. Seek out special places Wetlands are amazing places all year round but winter can be a great time to discover the things you might not spot during the busyness of the summer months. With many trees and plants leaf-free at this time of year it can be easier to spot wildlife. Seek out some secluded spots – also perfect for a game of hide and seek - and look out for wetland favourites such as kingfishers, swans, geese, ducks and bearded tit. Reedbeds can be great fun at this time of year. Enjoy our peaceful reedbed walk at Martin Mere or rustle through the reeds at our ‘explore’ wild play area at Llanelli. For a truly memorable experience, head out on our boat safari at Arundel Wetland Centre. If you’re lucky you might spot a water vole, they’re shy but they don’t hibernate, so now is a great time to spot them. 7. Visit our fun loving otters We know that our otters love visitors, they missed you all during last winter’s lockdowns. Their playful antics never fail to raise a smile with all our visitors, young and old. So come and find out all about these fascinating animals from our experts at our centres in London, Slimbridge, Martin Mere and Washington. You’ll make their day (as well as yours). Find your nearest wetland centre and plan your winter adventure

A life changer

A life changer

Deputy CEO of Natural England and WWT Trustee Alan Law recalls the day that transformed his life.

Nature stories from childhood

Nature stories from childhood

Memories from two members whose love of nature was kindled from a young age.

Your audio guide to winter wetland bird calls

Your audio guide to winter wetland bird calls

Winter is the time of year that our wetlands in the UK fill up with unfamiliar waterbird sounds. You might recognise the common mallard, but would you sound out a pintail? Our audio guide to winter wetland birds is here to help.

What happens when COP26 stops?

What happens when COP26 stops?

WWT’s Director of Conservation, James Robinson, reflects on what has been achieved at COP26, and what still needs to be done.

Making art out of wildlife

Making art out of wildlife

What do a printmaker, a photographer and painters have in common? They’re all inspired by WWT sites.

A place to lose yourself

A place to lose yourself

Local resident and photographer Andrew Wilson captures all the beauty of the London Wetland Centre.

Peregrines at Caerlaverock

Peregrines at Caerlaverock

Learn about these fantastic birds seen regularly on the reserve at Caerlaverock

10 reasons for families to visit our wetland centres this half term

10 reasons for families to visit our wetland centres this half term

With half term around the corner, we know finding new and exciting things to do can be challenging, especially when the weather isn’t always on side.

Inspired by our founder

Inspired by our founder

Two members explain how Sir Peter Scott propelled them into conservation.

What COP 26 could mean for wetlands, and the world

What COP 26 could mean for wetlands, and the world

If you’re someone who cares about wetlands and keeping our planet healthy, you’ll likely have heard of the landmark COP26 summit starting on 31st October.