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    Sussex wildlife charities warn of drought danger

    NewsBird NewsThursday 15 March 2012
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    Birds and wildlife in Sussex could struggle to survive because of the drought.

    The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned that the months of record dry weather, which has led to a hosepipe ban being introduced, has ruined the county’s wetland habitats which are vital for wildlife to survive.

    Steve Gilbert, conservation programme manager for the RSPB, said: “This serious and prolonged drought has already had a big impact on RSPB wetland nature reserves across the region, with dry conditions threatening to impact this spring’s breeding season at many sites.

    “While we are taking steps to use water as efficiently as possible on our reserves, in the wider countryside prospects are bleak for wildlife that needs moist soil conditions and healthy rivers.

    “The announcement of a hosepipe ban is a clear signal that we all need to do our bit to reduce our impact on the environment and help avoid further damage.

    “Saving water will ensure more stable, resilient habitats for the birds and other wildlife that depend on our water environments for their survival.”

    Creatures living at the 31 nature reserves in Sussex could all be affected by prolonged dry weather.

    Some of the most important wetland habitats in Sussex include Cuckmere Valley, Pevensey Levels, Coombe Haven, Rye Harbour, Pulborough Brooks, the Adur estuary and Pagham Harbour. The reserves are all important feeding grounds for ducks, geese and wading birds.

    The Adur estuary is home to rare breeds such as redshanks, dunlins and ringed plovers. Malling Down, near Lewes, is the home to corn buntings.

    Ditchling Beacon is home to several species of orchid, including common spotted and twayblade orchids.

    Met Office forecasts predict there is only a 15% chance of enough rain in the next three months to restock the county’s reservoirs and aquifers.

    Mr Gilbert added: “Sometimes it’s obvious where we can save water, such as collecting rainwater to water our gardens or taking showers instead of baths.

    “At other times the water connection may be less obvious but it could be just as important for wildlife and the environment.”

    Source: The Argus

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