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Wonderful Wetlands

10 Jan 2024

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Did you know that 2nd February is ‘Wetlands Day’? Wetland habitats play a vital role in our ecosystem and have immense importance for both wildlife and humans. These unique and diverse environments serve as invaluable ecosystems, providing a wide range of ecological services. Wetlands act as natural water purifiers, filtering and cleansing water as it passes through the marshy vegetation. They also act as natural flood buffers, absorbing excess water during heavy rainfall and reducing the risk of downstream flooding.

Wetlands are home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endangered or threatened. They provide crucial breeding and nesting grounds for migratory birds, nursery areas for fish and other aquatic species, and habitats for diverse flora and fauna. Additionally, wetlands are carbon sinks, actively sequestering carbon dioxide and helping to mitigate climate change. Recognising the importance of wetlands is crucial to their protection and conservation, ensuring the sustainability of these valuable ecosystems for future generations.

Burton-on-Trent’s historical Washlands is an area of land that has played a vital role in the development and growth of the town.

The Washlands, also referred to as the Burton Meadows, are situated along the banks of the River Trent and cover a substantial area of around 150 hectares.

In the 7th Century the Washlands were home to to a chapel established by St. Modwen.

Historically, the Washlands served as a floodplain, playing a crucial role in flood mitigation for the town. Due to its proximity to the river, the land was prone to regular flooding, especially during the winter months or periods of heavy rainfall. The flat, low- lying terrain of the Washlands would absorb excess water, reducing the risk of flooding in the town center.

Over time, the Washlands became a central part of the local community, providing grazing land for livestock and space for recreational activities. It was a common sight to see farmers leading their cattle to graze on the lush grass, and the open fields were frequently used for fairs, festivals, and sporting events.

In addition to its practical uses, the Washlands hold historical significance in the brewing industry, for which Burton-on- Trent is renowned. The area's rich alluvial soil, derived from centuries of river flooding, proved ideal for growing barley, a key ingredient in

brewing. This, coupled with the town's access to fresh water from the River Trent, made Burton-on-Trent the centre of the brewing industry in the 19th century.

As times changed and the needs of the town evolved, urbanisation encroached upon the Washlands. The expansion of the town led to the conversion of some areas into the recreational spaces that we now know and is home to a beautiful sculpture trail!

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Suite 29, Anglesey Business Park,
Anglesey Road
Burton on Trent
DE14 3NT
01283 564608