Farming in Protected Landscapes Case Study:
Footdrain creation on the Suffolk coast
For Year 2 of the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, £4,999 was awarded to the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape Nature Recovery team for the Suffolk Wader Strategy Footdrain Creation Project.
The project was a collaborative piece of work, managed by the RSPB’s Wet Grassland Advisor who is part of the RSPB Ecology and Land Management Team and 50% of the cost was provided by the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board.
What is being done?
The project involved the creation of 5,480m of footdrains on multiple Suffolk Wader Strategy sites which will provide optimum conditions for foraging breeding waders such as redshank, lapwing and avocet and over-wintering ducks and geese.
The footdrains will be long, linear scrapes (typically up to 3m wide and 50cm deep) and are designed to hold surface water, acting as very important wet features. The sites are at Tinkers Marsh, Hollesley, RSPB Minsmere and Snape, most of which are protected sites designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas, Ramsar, and National Nature Reserves.
The wetlands will create a network of optimum breeding wader habitats on the Suffolk coast and benefit biodiversity more generally too encouraging invertebrates and species such as European eel, grass snake, water vole and common toad. The restored wet grassland habitat will contribute significantly to carbon sequestration and storage potential, mostly in belowground biomass and help alleviate floods by creating more capacity to hold water.
The site will be a source of inspiration to others in the landscape by being used as demonstration sites for what is possible with the right habitat management. The aim is to encourage new land managers to start managing habitats for breeding waders in the surrounding landscape.