The Duchess of Norfolk unveiled a new wildlife viewing scope to mark the official opening of the Arun Riverlife project at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. The new scope in the visitor gallery sits opposite the artificial kingfisher nesting bank created as part of the project.
Georgina Susan Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk said: “The fact that this conservation work has taken place at WWT Arundel is wonderful. I would like to congratulate all those involved - from the planners, to the construction team and especially the generous donors.’ The Duchess went onto joke how much she enjoyed the improved "views of Arundel Castle from the wetlands", revealed when overgrown willow trees were cut back.
David Fairlamb, WWT Arundel Centre Manager said: "This project at Arundel embodies what the WWT is all about – habitat restoration. It brings threatened wetland habits close to people, so you feel immersed in it, as if you are sitting on the islands with the wildfowl."
Kevin Peberdy, WWT Director of Centre Developments said: “The project reconnects the wetland centre with the South Downs and with the River Arun. Interpretation describing the history of the River Arun has been installed in the visitor gallery, in which Arundel plays an integral part."
The Arun Riverlife project restored the main lagoon in front of the visitor centre to a natural wetland in keeping with the River Arun floodplain and water meadows that once characterised the region. This major undertaking involved removing trees to open up views, improve flight-lines and reduce perching opportunities for predators. The lake was drained, hundreds of fish and eels were relocated, and tonnes of silt were excavated. A new water control structure was installed and the area was extensively landscaped and re-planted.
This work has created a rich mosaic of wetland habitats designed to increase biodiversity, including wet grassland, ditches, lagoons and a reedbed, along with an artificial kingfisher nesting bank.
This will enable more visitors to enjoy the spectacles of their local wetlands throughout the seasons – a chance to spot kingfishers, terns and even water voles in comfort while enjoying a coffee. Visitors will have close views of the more secluded habitats and their wildlife, and can learn wildlife observation and identification skills in the new Discovery Hide.
Arun Riverlife Project Timeline
- Feb 2012: Large fish were removed from the lake.
- June 2012: The large willow trees around the lake were cut back and more hedgerows were planted as habitat for dormice.
- Oct 2012: WWT Arundel and the Environment Agency captured and moved over 200 eels from the lake in October 2012 in preparation to drain the lake.
- March 2013: Earth movers began re-landscaping the lakebed after a very wet winter made draining the lake difficult, delaying the project slightly.
- May 2013: The Arun Riverlife Discovery Hide constructed and decorated.
- June 2013: Island areas planted with sections of reed and sedge and sown with Wetland Plants.
The Arun Riverlife project was generously supported by:
The Banister Charitable Trust
The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
Mr and Mrs L Ralph
Winifred Eleanor Rowden in memory of her son Michael John Rowden
South Downs National Park Authority
The Tanner Trust
The Montague Thompson Coon Charitable Trust
The Constance Travis Charitable Trust
The Vandervell Foundation
The Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust managed by Equity Trustees
More about Arundel Wetland Centre
Published 30th September 2013
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