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(UK) PLANTING: A tree-sy way to help save the environment March 09, 2006 7:44 AM

GREEN volunteers are trying to save the environment by planting more trees along a river bank to safeguard wildlife.
The Wildlife Trust has started a tree-planting spree to create wet woodlands because it believes the habitat for many animals is in constant decline.

In its latest effort, 15 volunteers managed to plant 2,400 trees in two days along the bank of the River Nene at Stibbington, near Peterborough.

The team of conservation volunteers now plan to plant thousands more trees along the other side of the bank, as well as reach other areas in need of environmental work.

Emma Ogden, of The Wildlife Trust, said: "We are doing this because there is agricultural decline in some areas with a lack of wet woodlands.

"Once developed, the new wood will provide a vital shelter site for species such as the threatened otter. We are trying to encourage them to come back to the area."

The project was developed by a partnership of the trust, Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), English Nature and the Environment Agency after all parties recognised something needed to be done to save wildlife.

It is hoped the new trees will reverse the decline in wet woodlands that are home to creatures such as otters, birds and noctule bats.

At the moment, wet woodland only exists in small river valleys, beside small streams and surrounding bogs or mires in the ground.

It is hoped that more wet woodland areas can be created on the banks of many rivers like the River Nene.

The Wildlife Trust's Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough branch hopes to extend the number of wet woodlands across the whole area.

They are using money from the Forestry Commission's Woodland Creation Grant to fund the project.

The new woodland area along the River Nene will also be open to the public so they can quietly enjoy it throughout the year.

For more information, call The Wildlife Trust on 01954 713500.

Creatures the scheme could help

THE otter is the animal The Wildlife Trust has been most worried about in recent years.

It was once a common sight and widespread throughout the country. But the population underwent a dramatic decline in the '50s.

The trust thinks this was because of pollution from farm pesticides found its way into the river system, as well as the acid rain polluting the rivers. It nearly became totally extinct in the 1970s, but the trust now thinks the decline has been reversed although areas are still said to be at risk.

It is hoped this scheme will give otters somewhere to shelter and therefore preserve the population.

The noctule bat is one of the biggest bats in Europe with long, narrow wings.

They can grow up to 82mm and have wingspans of 400mm. It is still common across the country, but numbers are falling and its future threatened by a loss of roost sites in trees.
09 March 2006
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