Wetland wildlife boost from postcode lottery

Martin Spray accepts the cheque
Martin Spray accepts the cheque

Wetland wildlife is to benefit from new developments at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) thanks to the generous support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The WWT runs the local Arundel Wetland Centre specialist nature reserve in Arundel, West Sussex.

Players of the charity lottery have awarded £175,000 to WWT, which has been presented to WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray CBE on Tuesday 13 January.

The money will help the charity improve wetland homes for wildlife on its wild reserves and within its wildfowl collections from around the world, and get more people up close and learning about nature during 2015.

WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray CBE accepted the cheque today (13 January). He said: “WWT’s ethos starts with the simple act of feeding a duck. That connection with nature is more special if you’re feeding the world’s rarest goose, saved from extinction by our experts. It’s even more special when you’re surrounded by some of the UK’s top wildlife at one of our world class Wetland Centres, carefully designed and managed so wildlife will flourish.

“Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will ensure that WWT goes from strength to strength this year, by making our Wetland Centres even better for wildlife, and helping even more people make that special connection with nature.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said:“I am delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are able to support that great work carried out by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. Support from players will ensure the improvement in reserves and ensure that even more people learn about wetland wildlife. This funding marks a great start to 2015 for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.”

The new developments made possible by the support from players include:

A new raised pond at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre where school children will spend more time learning outdoors. The sides of the pond will be 50 cm high making it easier for students in wheelchairs to access the water. The pond dipping program teaches children about nature’s adaptations, teaches ID skills and how the food chain works. Play is an important part of learning. WWT’s Explore area at its London Wetland Centre in Barnes has been a model for learning about nature by having fun, since it first opened in 2006. This summer it will get a facelift that will help get more of WWT’s young visitors thinking about how they interact with the natural world.

Stopping the extinction of endangered UK wetland wildlife is the theme of the Back from the Brink area at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire. Back from the Brink will be expanded to get WWT’s visitors up close to two of the UK’s most unusual and endangered wetland creatures – the eel and the crayfish. The European eel has a remarkable lifecycle that takes it from the Sargasso Sea to the upper reaches of the UK’s rivers and even overland, but its numbers have crashed in recent years and it is now nearing extinction. The white-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only native crayfish but its numbers have similarly crashed as it has been driven out by non-native species that have escaped into the wild.

Thanks to the flexible nature of the players’ financial support, all of WWT’s nine Wetland Centres and its new Steart Marshes reserve in Somerset will benefit during the year.

Martin Spray continued: “We’re incredibly grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for this opportunity and we hope to welcome many of them to our Wetland Centres throughout 2015.”

Report and picture contributed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).