Ecology and Environmental Management
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One of Britain’s largest estuaries, it supports abundant wildlife. Wildfowl occur in great numbers, while wading birds inhabit the mud of the foreshore and offshore.
In winter, Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plover, Redshank, Knot and Black-tailed Godwit all feed on the mudflats at low tide. In May and August, passage waders such as Curlew, Sandpiper and Whimbrel occur.
The upper shore is clothed in saltmarsh with Cord-grass, Sea Plantain, Scurvy Grass and Sea Aster, there are also areas of common reed. Kingfishers are frequent here in winter and mixed flocks of finches may be seen feeding on the seeds of the saltmarsh plants.
These are important for wildlife and former clay pits on the Humber bank make up for some of the great wetlands of Lincolnshire lost through drainage. One such is the Far Ings nature reserve were the water is rich in microscopic life. This provides food for many invertebrates, which in turn support fish such as Eel, Roach, Rudd and Perch. Heron, Grebes and Kingfisher then prey on the fish.
Many duck – including Mallard, Pochard and Tufted Duck – nest on the islands and margins. In winter many more wildfowl live here, including Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye and Gadwall, Goosander and occasionally Smew. Great Crested Grebe, little Grebe and Water Rail also nest.
The Humber Estuary is important for nature conservation and is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive. It is also an internationally important wetland site under the Ramsar Convention.
The estuary itself has been identified as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive.
Sites designated under the Birds and Habitats Directives are collectively termed ‘Natura 2000’ sites. The directives, which are implemented in the UK principally through The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. These impose legal obligations on the UK government to protect the integrity and overall coherence of Natura 2000 sites.
Flood defence and habitat
Maintaining flood defences beside an estuary or the open coast can result in the loss of inter-tidal habitat. This can be either directly through the impact of maintenance or improvement works or indirectly due to the ‘coastal squeeze’ that will occur as sea levels rise if the defences are kept on their present alignment.
To compensate for these losses large areas of the estuary have been identified for coastal realignment. This is a process by which the flood defences are removed from their present position and the estuary is allowed to reclaim the land.
North Lincolnshire’s heathlands
The UK has about 20 per cent of the world’s total area of lowland heath. This heathland is a precious resource, a special type of habitat with unique flowers and birds.
We now have only about 20 per cent of the heathland we had 200 years ago. We are working hard with others to keep, restore and re-create heathland in the region.
In North Lincolnshire heathland is concentrated around Scunthorpe on land known as the “coversands” (an area of wind blown sand deposits). Much of the coversands around the town have been lost to development. What remains is largely fragmented and found on the edge of the town. It is often found within areas of acid grassland.
This urban site on the northern edge of Scunthorpe is good for acid grassland species. It is grazed with Hebridean sheep to keep down invading rank weeds. These can dominate the land and reduce the area of acid grassland.
Local volunteers have become sheep wardens. They help keep an eye on the animals so they can continue to perform their important role.
Next time you visit look out for harebells, common centaury, green woodpeckers, small heath butterfly and, of course, don’t miss the Hebridean sheep.
Restoration work recently took place on the former quarry and landfill site. Work to enhance this site by grazing and controlling scrub is ongoing.
For safety reasons the public cannot visit the site at the moment. We will give updates on progress on this website. The Conesby quarry site is expected to become a haven for wildlife and people.
Coversands – restoring the cover project
The restoration works at Atkinson’s Warren and Conesby quarry were part of the Coversands – restoring the cover project which ran from 2003 to 2008.
The council, with English Nature (now Natural England), the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council restored 700 hectares and re-created 250 hectares of heathland and acid grassland.
The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund and project partners to deliver important national biodiversity targets.
The project also improved access to heathland sites and developed a greater awareness about heathlands among local people.
At North Lincolnshire Council, we have had an environmental policy since 1998, which provides the basis for our environmental management system. We have an environmental management system that is accredited to ISO14001, an International Standard, which many councils’ in the UK have achieved already, or are working towards.
Our Environmental Policy
Our policy outlines the councils’ aims and objectives and how we will achieve our commitments:
- Operate an environmental management system which enables the council to set objectives and targets, monitor performance and make this information publicly available
- Raise awareness amongst staff of the council’s environmental policy and objectives
- Provide information and encourage an open dialogue with the local community on environmental issues
- Work with and encourage council contractors and suppliers to set environmental standards similar to those of the council
- Ensure the council complies with all relevant environmental legislation
- Enforce regulations and give advice to local industry and businesses
- Encourage and support the sustainable use of local materials and expertise
Read our full Environmental Policy [PDF] for more information.