Bringing reedbeds to life

The RSPB is bringing reedbeds to life across the UK - every buzzing, crawling, slithering, fluttering part of them.

The reedy fringe of Elney Lake, at Fen Drayton RSPB reserve, Cambridgeshire, England. February 2007.


Bringing reedbeds to life is an initiative taking a more rounded view of reedbed wetlands. We have discovered more about what makes reedbeds tick for wildlife and we're sharing best practice management with reedbed owners and managers across the country.
Phase one of the project is now complete and the results of the wildlife surveys are here.  
Working with partner organisations, we have carried out wildlife surveys and research across the country. We have related the species found to the habitat where they were found. This makes sure reedbed management creates the right habitat to maximise biodiversity.  
We will be sharing this knowledge with our partners through training courses, technical workshops and publications. Coming up with new ideas on the best ways to manage reedbeds for wildlife.
We hope there will be an opportunity for all those interested in reedbed conservation to get involved in bringing reedbeds to life across the country - every buzzing, crawling, slithering, fluttering part of them!


  • Increase understanding of the habitat and management requirements of a range of reedbed wildlife, via a programme of wildlife research and survey work on the five key project reedbed sites.
  • Increase our understanding of the factors influencing bittern nesting events at five key reedbed sites, via a programme of research and survey work.
  • Provide site specific, habitat management advice to reedbed managers via a programme of practical reedbed habitat audit site visits across an additional 20 reedbed sites.
  • Develop new and updated habitat management advice and technical guidance to reedbed managers based upon results.
  • Bring together reedbed managers and others to share best practice and explore new techniques for reedbed management, via technical workshops, training courses and conferences. 


  • Workshops held in 2011.
  • Training courses run in 2011, 2012 and 2013.


Planned Work

The Bringing Reedbeds to Life report forms an essential element of one of the largest co-ordinated programmes of reedbed research, assessment, advice and knowledge sharing for a decade. It includes undertaking reedbed habitat and management audits across more than 30 key sites to better inform understanding of reedbed habitats and their associated wildlife.
Having rebuilt a vibrant partnership, our collective challenge now is to learn from this and to form a coherent strategy for reedbed wetland conservation. Our emerging understanding of reedbeds has been shared with partners through an extensive programme of free training courses, workshops and conferences. 
Find out more about our current reedbed courses by clicking on the Habitat management training courses link.


Our data has confirmed the importance of the dry areas of reedbed for biodiversity. It has also shown wet areas are important, showing all parts of the hydrological gradient have biodiversity and conservation value.
  • The older drier parts of the reedbed contained higher overall invertebrate diversity and many invertebrates with conservation statuses. 
  • We found that early successional reedbed is important for reedbed and wetland specialist invertebrates. 
  • Seasonally flooded pools were important for common frogs and well-vegetated ditches were important for smooth newts.
  • The results show having a variety of ditches and open water bodies is important for aquatic invertebrates and macrophytes.
  • The data support previous findings that reedbeds are important refuges for water voles from mink predation. Water vole and mink were found to be coexisting at all five sites. 
  • Reedbeds are dynamic ecosystems and temporal and spatial variation in habitats is key to maintaining high diversity of flora and fauna. Management which maintains a range of successional stages will maximise conservation and biodiversity.
The results of this project's wildlife surveys are now available to download.  



  • This project is supported by Natural England, via the Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund.


Creating and managing reedbeds for wildlife. Date: 19 November 2014. PDF, 2.33Mb

Bringing Reedbeds to Life

Date: 28 March 2011 .PDF, 257Kb

Bringing Reedbeds to Life - Executive Summary

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 495Kb

Chapter 3: Overview of invertebrate results

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 1.51Mb

Chapter 4: Water trap surveys

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 1.41Mb

Chapter 5: Pitfall trap surveys

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 1.42Mb

Chapter 6: Light trap surveys for moths

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 1.96Mb

Chapter 7: Aquatic invertebrates

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF. 764Kb

Chapter 8: Aquatic plants

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 764Kb

Chapter 9: Amphibians

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 1.56Mb

Chapter 10: Water voles

Date: 28 March 2011. PDF, 154Kb

Chapter 11: Conclusion

Date: 7 October 2009. PDF, 287Kb

Reedbed management poster

Date: 8 April 2009. PDF, 313Kb

Bringing reedbeds to life


Coast on a stormy day

Sarah Blyth

Land Management Advisor, RSPB
Tagged with: Habitat: Wetland Species: Bittern Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection