Drayton Turret Footbridge. Photo courtesy of K. Sugden (WWT)

Drayton Turret Footbridge. Photo courtesy of K. Sugden (WWT)

By Ann Evans

If you enjoy long, lazy walks along canal banks and riversides, than you’ll be delighted to hear about a new scheme to improve the Tame Valley Wetlands – a 104 km² area that follows 30 km of the River Tame between Birmingham and Tamworth.

 

The new scheme is being led by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and this new Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is made up of 18 partner organisations including statutory bodies, charities and local groups. The ambitious project is costing £2.5 million, and has had a £1.8 million grant from the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund. The vision is to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Experts explain that wetlands provide a vital role in reducing flooding and improving water quality, whilst their biodiversity-rich habitats also provide an important home for wildlife and a place for sensitive recreation and relaxation. They say the Tame Valley Wetlands are a ‘blue-green lung’ in an area of the country otherwise dominated by transport routes and development.

 

The scheme aims to restore both built and natural heritage features. There are also plans to create a network of new footpaths, bridleways and cycle paths between Birmingham and Tamworth, allowing local people to enjoy, explore and relax in a natural environment.

 

It has already delivered some major improvements to the local area. Thanks to funding and support from the Environment Agency and Warwickshire County Council, over 500 metres of the River Tame at Kingsbury Water Park has been re-naturalised, leading to much improved access for local people and a more natural river where nature can once again thrive.

New footpath at Kingbsury Water Park. Photo courtesy of T. Doherty (WWT)

New footpath at Kingbsury Water Park. Photo courtesy of T. Doherty (WWT)

It’s also seen the completion of a project to restore the Drayton Turret Footbridge, one of the most unusual and well-recognised canal bridges along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Funding and expertise from the Canal & River Trust, combined with the wider grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has meant that this 200 year old listed landmark is now preserved for future generations to enjoy.

 

Over the next three years the scheme will deliver a wide variety of projects, events and training and volunteering opportunities aimed at restoring heritage and encouraging people to discover, explore and get involved with their local green spaces.

 

Tim Haselden, Scheme Manager said “The Tame Valley Wetlands are a vital asset for the community and local economy. Our work will help to restore and reconnect this fragmented and threatened landscape, by creating new wildlife habitat and by providing local people with new opportunities and skills. We are now looking for volunteers and trainees to get involved in all aspects of the scheme and we’d love to hear from anyone who might be interested”.

Tree planting along newly re-naturlaised R Tame. Photo courtesy of T. Doherty (WWT)

Tree planting along newly re-naturlaised R Tame. Photo courtesy of T. Doherty (WWT)

To get involved or to find out more about the Tame Valley Wetlands, visit www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

And www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk

 

 

TAGS:

Ann Evans, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Tame Valley Wetlands, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Environment Agency, Warwickshire County Council, National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund, wildlife, conservation,