Rivers and wetlands

Priority habitats: Rivers (including chalk rivers), Lowland fens, Ponds, Reedbeds.

Of all the habitats in Greater Lincolnshire the rivers and wetlands have seen some of the most dramatic changes over the last few centuries. The great Fens that extended throughout several eastern counties and dominated the landscape of south-east Lincolnshire have been drained and converted to farmland, leaving just a small fragment of what was once one of Britain’s richest wildlife habitats. Many of the specialist animals and plants associated with the Fens are now considered rare and vulnerable. However, the extensive drains and dykes that have replaced wild fen are also of value for biodiversity; supporting water voles and otters, but also providing integral habitat connections.

Rivers, canals and drains provide important linear habitats in Greater Lincolnshire. The Witham, the Welland and the lower reaches of the Trent are all important for biodiversity. Canals have become significant wetland habitats in their own right, and refuges for aquatic plants such as grass wrack pondweed which is found in parts of the Grantham Canal. Chalk streams are also a significant natural resource, with good numbers of both large and small chalk streams occurring in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Greater Lincolnshire is now a national stronghold for the water vole – a species that has declined rapidly throughout the UK. The Upper Witham supports a nationally important population of white-clawed crayfish and the otter can now be found in all river catchments in the area.

Vision for Greater Lincolnshire's rivers and wetlands:

  • Wetland management safeguards and improves habitat condition and benefits species. Over abstraction is not an issue.
  • Opportunities to extend habitats and connect rivers with their floodplain are explored in all schemes.
  • Greater Lincolnshire rivers and wetlands are appreciated for their wealth of wildlife and other benefits.
  • Throughout Greater Lincolnshire is a network of large-scale dynamic, healthy, functioning wetlands – providing valuable ecosystem services.
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