Tollesbury Wick wins award

Tuesday 15th November 2016

Tollesbury Wick - Photo: Maldon District Council

Our wetland restoration of the northern section of our Tollesbury Wick Marshes nature reserve, on the Blackwater Estuary, has triumphed in the ‘Nature Conservation’ category of Maldon District’s long-running Conservation & Design Awards 2016.

In awarding the top award, the judges said that they were “astonished by the sheer scale and vision of the project” which has seen a system of sinuous creeks and rills re-introduced over 146 acres of the 600-acre reserve, imitating the former glory of habitat destroyed for arable farming in the late 1960s.

The work, designed by wetland expert and consultant engineer, Roger Wardle, and funded by WREN’s FCC Biodiversity Action Fund, was completed in 2015. In winter 2015-16 the new wetland was a haven for thousands of wildfowl and waders, including Brent Geese, Black-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover. The project especially aimed to create optimum breeding habitat for threatened waders, many of which require splashy conditions in spring and beyond, and this year Lapwing, Redshank and Avocet all hatched young. Other species included a long-staying Glossy Ibis and breeding Mediterranean Gull and Yellow Wagtail.

To achieve the restoration, field drains had to be broken and sealed to prevent water loss. A perimeter earth bank was constructed to retain water, and trackways were raised to enable winter access. Old water controls have been replaced with new sluices to manage water levels, and a new storage lagoon has been dug to harvest excess winter rainfall.

“We are very honoured to receive this prestigious award and would like to thank everyone involved in the project, especially designer Roger Wardle and WREN, our major funder,” Jonathan Smith, Essex Wildlife Trust’s warden at Tollesbury Wick Marshes, said. “We were very encouraged by the amount of nesting waders on the restored habitat this summer and thrilled by all the wintering birds, which are beginning to build in numbers again. It is fantastic to see this section of the Wick being restored to its former glory.”

□ To visit Tollesbury Wick, follow the public footpath along the seawall, from Tollesbury Marina. There is a permissive path onto the nature reserve, leading to a bird hide. No dogs are allowed on the nature reserve itself. There is car parking available a short walk away from the marina, at Woodrolfe Green, reached via Woodrolfe Road from Tollesbury village.

□ More details about Maldon District’s Conservation & Design Awards, which are now in their 33rd year.