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RSPB Ouse Washes



Livestock:Various breeds and types of livestock

In brief:Large scale wetland management for birds through management of grazing livestock

Contact:Jon Reeves

Tel:01354 680212

The Ouse Washes is a stunning example of lowland wet grassland habitat, the largest in the UK. In winter, the reserve is used by tens of thousands of ducks as well as the largest concentration of Bewick's and Whooper swans anywhere in the UK. During the spring and early summer, the site fulfils an equally crucial role as a nationally important breeding habitat for hundreds of waders and ducks.

The RSPB, along with the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough, and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, owns over 80% of the washes and is managing the site to benefit all its wildlife through traditional cattle grazing (up to 2,000 animals) and hay mowing – with some sheep and horse grazing – as the best form of conservation management.

The reserve staff have experience in managing wet grasslands through grazing for breeding and wintering waders and wildfowl. Land is let to about 20 graziers in any one year and there is a stringent management system (skilled staff, handling systems and infrastructure present, realistic rents, graziers claiming the Single Payment, cross – compliance implemented) in place to ensure best practice management of the reserve and livestock.

This nature reserve is part of the Wildlife Guardians Scheme, which is supported by the SITA Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund (formerly the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme), and Scottish and Southern Energy plc.