Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 9°C

Search

Fears for Suffolk birds

PUBLISHED: 02:00 09 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

TIME is running out for vulnerable stretches of Suffolk's coast which offer vital feeding grounds for many species of birds, two major conservation groups have warned.

TIME is running out for vulnerable stretches of Suffolk's coast which offer vital feeding grounds for many species of birds, two major conservation groups have warned.

The RSPB and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said global warming was posing an increasing threat to the region's mudflats and saltmarshes.

They also highlighted the threat, from sea level rise, to freshwater and brackish water habitats on nature reserves such as Minsmere in Suffolk.

The warning came as environment ministers began to arrive in Marrakech, Morocco, for the latest round of international talks on efforts to combat global warming.

Thousands of knot, dunlin and brent geese make the trip from the Arctic to Britain's coastline and estuaries at this time of the year.

They are a familiar and spectacular sight on the East Anglia coast where about a quarter of the country's mudflats and saltmarshes are found.

Throughout the rest of the year the region's estuaries are used as breeding and feeding grounds for many species of wildfowl and wader.

However, areas of mudflat and saltmarsh are diminishing as they are squeezed between rising sea level and man-made sea defences.

Small managed retreat projects – the abandonment of existing sea walls to allow new inter-tidal habitat to form - are already going ahead along East Anglia's coast.

A new freshwater reserve is being created inland at Lakenheath in Suffolk to partly compensate for losses expected at Minsmere and elsewhere in the region.

But conservation groups are warning that losses will vastly outpace additions unless urgent action is taken to combat global warming.

They claim Tundra habitat in the Arctic region, where the knot, dunlin and brent geese breed and raise their young, is also under threat as a result of climate change. The dunlin could lose between 36% and 50% of its Arctic breeding habitat, according to scientists.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's director of conservation, said: "Whether you're a bird enthusiast or not, the sight of 50,000 birds wheeling in perfect unison is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles to be seen around our shores."

Dr Ute Collier, head of WWF's climate change programme, said: "Ministers at the climate talks would do well to remember that birds do not understand political boundaries."

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists