Human beings are now officially an ‘urban species’, with more than 50% of the world’s population now living in urban areas. However, this trend towards urbanisation for our species has had catastrophic impacts for many others as they, and the habitats they depend on, have been squeezed out of the urban landscape. These impacts are particularly severely felt by wetlands. Most urban centres developed precisely because of wetlands, which provided easy access to water, rich agricultural land, and navigable access. However, the extent of urban development means many have been drained and built on entirely and remaining fragments are severely degraded. As well as being disastrous for wetland wildlife this has also had severe impacts on our society, with the ecosystem services that these wetlands provided having been severely compromised.
WWT has always played a role in trying to redress that balance. Many of our Wetland Centres are in close proximity to major urban centres and for many people they a vital source of access to nature. London Wetland Centre was created right in the heart of one of the world’s biggest urban centres and was a major step forward in bringing wetlands back into the urban environment. We are now taking this concept even further, with our ‘Working Wetlands’ approach which seeks to use the multiple benefits that these wetlands can provide as a way to bring them back into people’s homes, businesses, neighbourhoods and daily lives.