UK Wetlands

Blog: World Wetlands Day

It has been another strong year of work supporting Wetlands for The Rivers Trust and on this World Wetlands Day, we reflect on the state of wetlands and our work protecting and nourishing these vital ecosystems.

Jake Coleman


If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then rivers are the arteries and wetlands are the lifeblood.

World Wetlands Day is a chance to celebrate the vital role wetlands play in our water ecosystem as key animal habitats, water purifiers and flood defences. Here at The Rivers Trust, we love wetlands so we’re working to build and consolidate methods of supporting these invaluable ecosystems – from preserving established wetlands to constructing new ones.

This World Wetlands Day, we'll be highlighting some of the fantastic work our local Trusts are carrying out on social media. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date. Interested in finding out more about our work with wetlands? Keep scrolling!

Wetlands are under threat. The world has lost 85% of its wetlands since the 1700s and they are disappearing three times faster than forests despite getting nowhere near the same media coverage.

With unsustainable developers draining bogs for construction, wastewater contaminating the peatlands and climate change over-saturating or drying out marshes, it has never been more important to value, manage and restore our wetlands.

As part of our Replenish 2020-2023 project, we have formed a partnership of wetland designers from the Constructed Wetland Association and The Rivers Trust with over 100 years of design experience. This team is working on developing a wetland assessment framework to help regulators permit well designed and targeted wetlands. This framework combined with the detailed design guide also being developed by the partnership, should support the significant growth in the construction of new wetlands that is being driven by nutrient neutrality and wider concerns about river water quality and habitat loss.

This comes hot on the heels of our work with the Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF-UK, Enfield Council and Thames21 on the Broomfield Park Wetlands where partnership working has:

  • Diverted sewage water away from the nearby Pymmes brook, cleaning 200,000m3 of water per year
  • Reduced flood risk for approximately 70 properties in an area using the wetlands as water storage where it wasn’t possible to use traditional large scale flood defences
  • Improved 3000m2 of wildlife habitat by planting reeds, marginal flowers and grasses
  • Helped create a community of volunteer workers, boosting local engagement with nature whilst improving physical and mental wellbeing.

We have also helped to develop an Urban Wetland Design Guide with the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) to provide comprehensive and practical advice on the design and maintenance of constructed wetlands for the purpose of mitigating urban diffuse pollution.

Listen to this two-part podcast episode of our podcast Rambling About Rivers to find out more about our work with Wetlands:

Part 1 (Why Wetlands): Featuring John Bryden, Senior Programmes Manager at Thames21, who talks about the incredible wetlands that the Trust has created, and find out more about the process of sculpting an entirely new habitat.

Part 2 (People Power): Featuring Alison Archer from the Pymmes BrookERS: a group of community volunteers working together to restore their local waterways. Working in conjunction with Thames21, the Pymmes BrookERS were crucial to the creation of Broomfield Park Wetland.

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