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Adult breeding-plumaged black-headed gull

Image: Steve Round

Graham Elliott, the RSPB's Fens Area Manager said: 'This nature reserve will be established both for people to enjoy wildlife and the countryside and for its potential wildlife value.

'It's already a great birdwatching area and we will work to make it much better still for all kinds of wildlife. We are grateful to Communities and Local Government and EEDA for helping make this possible.'

The RSPB expects to encourage new wildlife spectacles such as common terns and black-headed gulls nesting on islands and kingfishers nesting in man-made nesting banks. The landscape and wildlife will be enhanced through a programme of habitat management including removal of willows to open up views, scrub management, creation of reedbeds, and digging new ditches and pools.

'It's already a great birdwatching area and we will work to make it much better still for all kinds of wildlife'

The new reserve will be part of a very large wetland complex of adjacent nature reserves along the River Great Ouse. North-east of Fen Drayton Lakes is the Hanson-RSPB Wetland Project at Needingworth Quarry, where Britain's biggest reedbed is being created over the next 30 years.

Then, north of Earith, is the Ouse Washes with its nature reserves owned by the RSPB, Wildlife Trust and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

With the addition of Fen Drayton Lakes, this area of protected wetland is already 23 miles long and over 2,300 hectares in size, with the prospect of being even bigger as the RSPB and other organisations are working together to add more land in future.

Initial work at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB nature reserve will include signposts, footpaths, car parking and interpretation panels as well as spreading the word about the reserve in surrounding communities. In time, getting people close to wildlife is the aim, including hides and guided walks.

Funding of more than £2 million

In the heart of the Cambridge growth area and a key component of Cambridgeshire's ‘Green Vision', this new nature reserve is expected to have great value as a new green space allowing access to attractive wildlife rich countryside for tens of thousands of people from surrounding communities.

It's this potential that has attracted more than £2 million of funding from Communities and Local Government (£1,120,000) and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) (£994,000) towards the purchase and set-up costs of the new nature reserve.

The RSPB will liaise closely with local communities surrounding the site so that the development of the nature reserve benefits local people and enhances the local environment.

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