A call to arms to address inadequate national flood protection and a kingfisher takes up residence at Rainham.
I have been accused by co-workers of being the office scrooge this season and I do feel a bit scrooge-like. Beautifully wrapped presents but gosh, another pair of socks! Or, put another way, fine words on tackling flooding, but where's the action.
It would be easy for the UK government to pledge millions to dredge rivers, raise flood walls and build more drains, but that's tinkering around the edges when we should be looking to agricultural and land management practices that can help us better manage water surges. What I'm talking about is intelligent planning, restoration of floodplains and sustainable drainage systems that all help reduce flood peaks, giving communities time to prepare for the worst. This approach would also help wildlife and enhance our natural surroundings. More beautiful wrapping I hear you cry!
Well, consider this. When my, recently departed, Gran moved in to her Hounslow home in the 1930's every house in that street had a front garden of grass and flowerbeds. Walk along that street today and almost every house has converted that green space to concrete to park a car on. Hard surfaces help send lots of water in to our drains. Those old front gardens used to help soak-up and then slow down that run-off.
The sad thing is, you can have both car parking and a wildlife friendly, water absorbing front garden. Just visit our model wildlife garden in Regent's Park to find out how or sign-up for our Homes for Wildlife project to do your bit to reduce flooding and help wildlife. Your actions do make a difference.
How fortuitous that we are now approaching that time when we all set ourselves a target for the New Year! The trend we're seeing with climate change suggests that this year's floods will become more likely. This strengthens the argument that while we should continue to push our government and world leaders to do more, we as individuals should also be doing more. Conservative estimates for meeting the cost of this year's floods in the UK quote a figure of more than £3 billion. We cannot afford events like this and neither can wildlife. In nearby Cambridgeshire the RSPB recorded over 500 pairs of waders flushed out of the Ouse washes, whilst our nature reserve at Minsmere saw newly laid and rare bittern eggs washed away in their nests by floods.
So, where do we go from here? Let's see if we can all make a difference in 2008. It needn't be expensive, painful or of gigantic proportions but please make it positive for wildlife. If you ever wonder if it's worth it, tack a trip on the C2C rail line to Purfleet and visit our Rainham Marsh reserve to see the beautiful female kingfisher that's turned up there. It used to sweep past one of the hides but the installation of a dead branch has given it a handy perch. Words don't do it justice, just go along and see for yourself!
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