Breeding Wader Habitat Restoration

We are restoring 158ha agricultural land to traditional grazing marsh, providing a functional link to improve connectivity between nearby sites whilst ensuring that the local farmer can get a sustainable income from the land.

In terms of habitat connectivity, current biodiversity quality, water supply and topography, Higham Marsh has the most potential for ecological improvement on the Hoo Peninsula in North Kent.

The site is currently an area managed for livestock farming. The NIA has signed a management agreement with the landowner to restore this site to fulfil its ecological potential as a breeding site for Lapwing and Redshank, as well as improving the populations of Water Vole, Brown Hare and invertebrates.

Using funding from the NIA we will conduct capital works to improve the hydrology of the site, including:

First Lapwing chick of 2014 – Richard and Shirley Pope
  • Removing invasive scrub from existing ditches
  • Initiating a sensitive ditch management programme
  • Targeting grazing with cattle
  • Creating four hydrological units using bunding, stops and sluices
  • Installing an effective pumping station

This will ensure the SSSI on the site can remain in favourable condition, provide more for biodiversity and enable the landowner to obtain revenue from the land through the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, a win-win for local business and biodiversity.

By working in partnership, we’re able to manage proactively land in a way which supports both farming and nature - Tom Ledger, Landowner

Work has commenced on site, with breeding wader and archaeology surveys informing the design for the site. Groundworks will take place during Yr2 and 3, with ongoing monitoring of the site. After just the first year of work, 10 Redshank pairs and 17 Lapwing pairs bred on site with a whopping productivity ratio of 1.68 chicks per pair (exceeding our 0.7 target). Success!

Images showing Higham Marshes as viewed from the sea wall in December 2013.
Images showing Higham Marshes as viewed from the sea wall in December 2013.