The first wetland mosaic habitat for the Thame catchment

Freshwater plants and animals are benefiting from a two-hectare wetland creation project on the Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire.

Situated on the floodplain of the River Thame, the Eythrope Wetland was the first of its kind in the Thame catchment. It has now become a local wildlife site because of its wetland bird community.

A holistic approach to floodplain restoration

As co-hosts of the River Thame Catchment Partnership, we’re working with the River Thame Conservation Trust and the Waddesdon Estate to increase biodiversity on this historic floodplain in Buckinghamshire.

We took a holistic approach to floodplain restoration. This is because we wanted to provide – not only a diverse range of high quality habitat – but clean unpolluted water in which wildlife can thrive. When we started creating the Eythrope Wetland in 2019, it was the first wetland mosaic habitat of its kind in the Thame catchment.

It comprises of a complex of pools, ponds, wet grassland and backwater habitat. All features have long drawdown zones and shallow margins that will slowly dry and re-wet through the seasons, providing a multitude of niche habitats to benefit a wide range of freshwater plants and animals.

This work was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, Thames Water and the Waddesdon Estate.

Aerial view of valley with a river

- The Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire, where Freshwater Habitats Trust and River Thame Conservation Trust have created new habitats for freshwater wildlife.

A stepping stone habitat

Because it is located on the floodplain of the River Thame, this habitat adds a key ‘stepping stone’ connection between two important areas for wetland birds in the catchment. It also increases overall landscape-scale connectivity for water dependent species.

A wide range of species have been recorded at the site since work was completed in 2000. This includes 122 species of birds, such as Teal, Lapwing and Ringed Plover.

In the longer-term we hope this wetland creation project will stand as a demonstration site for national best practice of floodplain restoration. It could also be a focus site for the re-introduction of freshwater plants and animals whose populations are declining or have become extinct in the River Thame catchment.

Man pond dipping with net.

- Freshwater Habitats Trust CEO Professor Jeremy Biggs at the Waddeson estate. Photo: Jill Mead.