Posted 27th Apr 2018
The freshwater wetlands and waterways in the UK range from small ponds and trickling streams to gushing rivers and massive reservoirs
From the River Severn to the Norfolk Broads, the Scottish lochs to our back-garden ponds, there are a wide variety of habitats, meaning it's no wonder these areas support a diverse range of plants and animals.
These rivers and streams provide wildlife with 'corridors' which they use to move between fragmented habitats. Internationally important chalk streams support endangered species such as bullhead, southern mayfly and white-clawed crayfish, while extensive, yellow-brown reedbeds created by stands of common reed are important habitats for birds, including threatened species such as the bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
Our wetlands and waterways support many different species of fish, including the brown trout, stickleback, pike, grayling, roach, perch and salmon. The charismatic otters patrol riverbanks at night, while water voles 'plop' into the water from their burrows, and the metallic kingfishers skim the water's surface.
Not only do they support an immense variety of wildlife, wetlands also have economic value - thousands of people who live on the edge, but also communities that live miles away. As an important source for food, fresh water and building materials, they also provide valuable services such as water purification, flood defence and erosion control.
Water has played a crucial role in everyday life for centuries. It has been used to navigate through town and country, provides power, irrigates the land for agriculture and as an inspiration for art and literature. Yet despite this, our habitats are in decline - waters are being polluted with chemicals, bank habitats, stripped and modified, dams built, and wetland wildlife lost.
However, there is hope. River and floodplain restoration projects are being conducted by local Wildlife Trusts and are aiding these vital habitats.
Typical wetland wildlife:
Minnow, dace, brown trout, eel, stickleback, pike, grayling, roach, perch, salmon, otter, water vole, American mink, kingfisher, mute swan, mallard, little grebe, great crested grebe, swallow, reed warbler, dipper, moorhen, yellow iris, marsh marigold, banded demoiselle, beautiful demoiselle, brown hawker, white-legged damselfly
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts