The Wetlands of the English East Coast (serial nomination)
An interesting development.
The T List proposal is said to have been "led by the RSPB and supported by the National Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Crown Estate
". The RSPB is an internationally respected organization with a high profile. It would seem unlikely that it would get itself involved in such a proposal without having some background knowledge (possibly including putting out feelers to IUCN?) that it might be received positively. Here
is the RSPB "take" on its initiative. We are told that "A new report, authored by ABPmer, has confirmed the outstanding universal value of the English east coast wetlands and their role in the East Atlantic Flyway
." Marine Consultancy ABPmer
seems to have credibility regarding Marine environmental matters but I am not sure how "good" it is at assessing World Heritage OUV!!! I note that its Mission statement includes "delighting clients" - let's hope that RSPB is "delighted"!
But the area doesn't figure in any of the "gap lists" regarding Natural WHS of which I am aware. Indeed, if anything, the opposite could apply. There seems to have been a plethora of "Flyway" nominations recently. I have just checked an email exchange I had with Els back in late Feb 2008 when the concept of "Connections" was being developed. I note proposing one for "East Atlantic Migratory Flyway - Donana, Banc d'Arguin, Djoudj
". Well that "Connection", as Els's "Blog" of May 2020
identifies, has morphed into one called "Bird Migrations" ("WHS that are key stopover sites for birds on one of the major flyways.
") and now has 52 entries
To be fair, many of these "connections" are for WHS whose "migratory" aspect is a relatively minor element of their total OUV. But there have been a number also where it has been the major one – e.g Wadden See (2009), Migratory Bird Sites (China 2019), Getbol (Korea 2021). China had also hoped to add to that WHS in 2023 with "The Coast of the Bohai Gulf and the Yellow Sea of China
". Are we seeing a "Natural site" equivalent to the many cultural Viticulture sites by which almost any Reserve on a flyway claims OUV?! All "Flyway sites" are "important" of course but what makes them so important as to justify WH inscription??
The East Atlantic flyway already has at least 4 WHS – is there "room" for another in the form of UK's East Coast Wetlands which are so close to the Wadden See? Guinea Bissau has another Eastern Atlantic Flyway site on its T List in the form of the Bijagos Islands but a nomination was deferred in 2013 for "protection" rather than "OUV" concerns, so we could expect it to return some day - "La Guinée-Bissau a présenté une première fois le dossier de candidature au patrimoine mondial. La réponse de l'UNESCO a été de dire : « Oui, effectivement, l'archipel des Bijagos présente un caractère universel exceptionnel ». Par contre, d'après leur appréciation, le gouvernement de la Guinée-Bissau n'a pas encore les moyens suffisants pour faire en sorte de conserver ce patrimoine sur le long terme
Regarding the possibly upcoming UK T List entry – Here is a map
(scroll down) of the possible locations. It covers a surprisingly large chunk of England's (non "cliff") Eastern coastline (I would suspect that much of the rest is town/industrial or caravan sites)! But, in that respect, is it really any different from the multiple sites on the Chinese and Korean "equivalents"? The full report from which the map has presumably been taken is unfortunately not available as far as I can see - so I can't check one aspect of the map which seems surprising - namely that it seems to highlight the "inland" Broads
as well as the "true" coastal wetlands (Going North, the last area of yellow before the coast turns West towards the Wash). None of the other reports mentions this area of lakes and rivers formed both by sea level changes and man-made peat workings
and now a major UK holiday area.
Apart from the "Broads" issue, one other location stands out in particular for me – Wallasea Island. This has been subject to a lengthy and costly project of "rewilding"
titled "The Wild Coast Project
".... "a landmark conservation and engineering scheme for the 21st century on a scale never before attempted in the UK and the largest of its type in Europe
". As early as the 15thC the area of creeks and banks had been drained and walled (originally by the Dutch!) for agricultural use and eventually became fully ploughed. It has now been returned to creeks and mudflats using much of the "spoil" from London's latest underground project "Crossrail". "The project made new land areas including seven artificial islands and saw the bulldozing of 300m of the seawall to flood 115 hectares of farmland. This new landscape has evolved into a stable natural environment of mudflats, salt water lakes and coastline that provide more habitat for wildlife, particularly wading birds
". IUCN is "big" into such developments
and I would expect to see this one highlighted in any nomination as an examplar of the "way forward" in such matters, rather than something to be hidden away!.
Finally it might be worth recording this document (downloadable here
) which emerged in my searches for other potentially upcoming "Flyway" nominations. It relates to the Volga Delta. ("The Volga Delta is a crossroad of flyways of many migratory waterfowl and water-related bird species.
"). Although dated 2008 it doesn't seem to have resulted in any action by Russia to add the area to its T List.