What is a LIFE+ Nature Project?
LIFE+ Nature is one of the European Union's main funding programmes for the environment and its conservation. LIFE+ Nature projects are subject to a rigorous application process, detailed evaluation and have to be supported by DEFRA in the UK. LIFE+ funds innovative, best practice projects that contribute to the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives on Natura 2000 Network sites.
This is the third time that LIFE funding has been awarded to the Alde-Ore area, underlining its international importance for wildlife and the pro-active work for wildlife conservation undertaken by the National Trust (NT) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Download a leaflet explaining the project here.
What we have done on the lagoons and marshes?
A main aim of the project is to establish functional, efficient and
sustainable systems of water management to maintain and improve the
quality of the coastal lagoons and marshes in response to increasingly
lower rainfall. A network of new ditches, lagoons and water controls have been installed, and we continue to monitor species, water quality and levels to ensure these sites are fantastic places for wildlife.
Wader numbers have been high over the 2012 summer. Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits and Spoonbills present here
With the work now complete we are entering a period of experimentation and recording to find the best water levels and management regime.
Maps and further information about the works can be found under downloads. A gallery showing the works in progress can be found here.
Protection of nesting birds
Most of the bird species on Havergate Island and Orford Ness nest on the ground. This makes them, their eggs and young, very exposed to predation by several different predators from foxes, weasels and stoats to other birds like Gulls and Grey Heron. However, on Havergate Island a more significant problem is the large population of brown rats which cause many losses to breeding Avocets and Terns. After detailed monitoring and research, and the production of an action plan, work is starting on the removal of brown rats in order to protect the nesting birds.
Why is Orford Ness so unusual and why are some of its habitats so vulnerable?
Orford Ness is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe and the only one featuring a cuspate foreland. The shingle habitats at Orford Ness host unusual, and some unique, combinations of species, of plants, invertebrates and lichens. The shingle habitat is exceptionally vulnerable to disturbance as its ridge and furrow structure has been formed in a very particular pattern over a long period of time and so cannot be easily re-formed if damaged by human activities. The National Trust has a legal obligation to protect this valuable natural resource.
Our aim is to engage with local communities and visitors to assist us in maintaining the fragile balance between offering access to these inspiring places and the essential conservation of the habitats and wildlife.
What surveys of the wildlife are we carrying out?
The National Trust and RSPB carry out regular wildlife surveys on these two sites. The breeding and wintering bird life has been counted for many years, and this will be continued, in even more detail, throughout the project, so we can evaluate how the birdlife is responding to the conservation work we are undertaking.
We shall also survey the plants and invertebrates of the coastal lagoon habitats during the project, to see how the water management improvements affect this wildlife. The completed survey results can be found here.