NIA grant awarded: £587,295
Additional resources provided by this NIA: £ 1,034,760
The Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area is part of the vast flatlands straddling the borders of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
Progress from year one of the NIA can be found in this summary: (747kb).
The area offers the best opportunity in England to develop a major multi-functional wetland landscape in a largely unrecognised biodiversity hotspot. The NIA covers 49,700 hectares within the Humberhead Levels National Character Area.
It is a different wetland model, where the habitats are intimately interspersed within some of the most productive arable land in the UK, mostly below sea-level and vulnerable to climate change effects. Novel approaches are needed to accommodate some of our rarest wildlife in that complex landscape.
The NIA will be administered and driven by the Humberhead Levels Partnership established in 2001. Its main aim is:
This is not about turning back the clock to when the Levels were an impassable swamp. Rather it will enhance existing internationally important wetlands (the Humber and the Humberhead Peatlands), other SSSIs and Local Wildlife Sites. These sites will be reconnected by working with local farmers to create ribbons of habitat on unproductive drain-sides, headlands and wet field corners associated with the important rivers and dykes that traverse the area. Wildlife will be free to move through adjacent farmland, the land’s economic value will be maintained and its resilience to climate change increased. This programme will create or restore at least 1427Ha of wetland habitat.
A key aspect will be progress towards reinstatement of England’s largest lowland mire system. Success here will increase the amount of carbon sequestered into newly forming peat and wetland soils; a vital ecosystem service.
The NIA will develop community capacity to get involved with wildlife sites. This will operate in three distinct ways; i) improved interpretation and face to face contact on five sites with existing visitor infrastructure will encourage an extra 6000 visits to local wildlife sites over the next three years, ii) new environmental education programmes will operate from three different sites in the area and; iii) targeted volunteer development and training will deliver an extra 3910 hours of volunteer input.
Other benefits will be wider ranging and pervasive. Better integrated land use will make the area more resilient to climate change. Closer partnership working will align farming with more sustainable flood defence, water supply and biodiversity conservation. The impetus provided to the local green economy through, for example, our work on biomass to energy projects, could provide new jobs and sustainable development opportunities in an area of multiple deprivation within 10 years.
This could increase work for conservation management contractors and for green tourism employees from cafe staff to nature guides. Connecting local communities to their wildlife sites will increase independence from central government funding and increase local pride and stewardship, foster social wellbeing and provide significant health benefits.
For further information contact Teresa Hughes: Teresa.email@example.com