New status gives Cotswold Water Park greater protection
By Rob Freeman | 11th January 2021
Cotswold Water Park has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Spanning the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire borders, the park includes 177 lakes created by mineral mining over 2,000 hectares.
The area has gained national importance for its bird and plant populations and the new status will help Natural England work with residents and businesses within the park to protect and enhance wildlife.
Cotswold Water Park Trust chairman Paul Hazel said: "The trust has worked for many years with its volunteers, land and lake owners and commercial operators, to try to protect and enhance the area's wildlife and habitats.
"The trust is pleased Natural England has formally recognised the significance of the Cotswold Water Park's biodiversity and, in particular, its importance to breeding and wintering birds.
"The trust is particularly delighted Natural England has formally acknowledged the part played in this success by a variety of stakeholders, including mineral operators, leisure providers and the public."
He continued: "It is crucial the Cotswold Water Park moves forward as a balanced and sustainable example of how wildlife and people can successfully co-exist and that the public can continue to enjoy the benefits of living in, working in or visiting this unique area.
Land in the park managed for leisure users provides invaluable wildlife habitat such as sailing clubs which manage marginal areas as scrub, providing an excellent habitat for breeding birds.
Breeding birds in the park include scarce species such as little egret, little ringed plover and nightingale, alongside large numbers of ducks of several species, mute swans, greylag geese, coot and herons.
The scrub and reedbed are full of breeding warblers including reed, sedge and Cetti's warblers, blackcaps and willow warblers, and around 35,000 waterbirds are present over the winter.
This expanded designation also ensures that Cotswold Water Park can play a key role in the Nature Recovery Network announced by Natural England to drive forward the restoration of protected sites and landscapes across England.
Natural England chief executive Marian Spain said: "Places like this are ever more important in bringing people and nature together and giving us that contact with wildlife that's so vital for our health and well-being.
"This extended designation is a testament to the efforts of the many bodies and individuals who have been involved in creating and managing the water park over many years and living proof that some of our most important species can thrive hand in hand with homes, business and recreational activities."
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