Wildfowl under threat in Suffolk

WADING birds and other wildfowl using the internationally-protected wetlands of the Orwell and Stour estuaries could be under threat, it was claimed today.

WADING birds and other wildfowl using the internationally-protected wetlands of the Orwell and Stour estuaries could be under threat, it was claimed today.

A new report on the estuaries fears that if disturbance from powerboats, shooting and other human activity is not curtailed it will reduce the number of birds as they cannot feed and roost.

Suffolk Euro MP Richard Howitt visited the River Orwell at Levington today with conservationists and wildlife experts to see for himself the threatened birdlife and human activity on the estuary.

He was very concerned at the findings of the report from the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit, especially as the European Parliament last week passed a new strategy to conserve and protect the marine environment and estuaries including the Stour and Orwell.

Mr Howitt said: “These estuaries are wetlands of national, European and global importance, and we must make sure that they are preserved.

“This report has spotlighted a new threat to wildfowl and we must find the right balance between allowing people to use the waterway while not disturbing sensitive wildlife.

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“Local wildlife enthusiasts are backing European rules to make sure that this sensitive environment with all its scenic beauty and stunning wildlife is here for future generations to enjoy.”

The report has been compiled by Suffolk Wildlife Trust working alongside volunteers and wildlife observers.

Labour MEP Mr Howitt said its publication was timely because as part of the Haven Gateway Growth Area the Stour and Orwell are likely to face ever greater demands both from commercial and recreational users.

There have been growing concerns about all kinds of activity on the Orwell estuary and disturbance to wildlife, though conservationists have worked hard with organisations such as Harwich Haven Authority and the Port of Felixstowe to improve habitat.

Some concern has been voiced, too, over wildfowling, but the winter shooting of ducks and geese is a country pursuit which goes back centuries and conservationists say the operation of wildfowling clubs in the Orwell area is “first class”.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org

Do you think there is too much activity on our rivers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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