CUMBRIA Wildlife Trust has been awarded just less than £60,000 to create 40 hectares of reedbed at its Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, near Witherslack.

The new habitat, known as lagg fen, is exceptionally rare in the UK as few large examples are known to exist.

Common reed, cottongrass, bottle sedge, tussock sedge, marsh cinquefoil and bogbean will be planted as plug plants around the edge of the peat bog, where the peat meets the soil and water levels are lower.

Bio-engineering specialists Eco~Tech Systems, which is based in Carlisle, will undertake the plant growing and planting, and staff from Eco~Tech Systems and volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers will plant the plugs next spring.

Eco~Tech Systems Director Tristan Josh has announced “We are absolutely delighted to be involved with such a fantastic project and look forward to seeing the transformation over the next couple of years”.

Local people are also being encouraged to get involved by coming along to a Cumbria Wildlife Trust conservation work party which will be advertised next year.

Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, is a 350 hectare peat bog that has been restored by Cumbria Wildlife Trust over a period of 15 years following destruction caused by conifer planting, drainage and peat cutting.

This year ospreys successfully raised three chicks at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve for the first time.

John Dunbavin, Reserves Officer, says “Although the nature reserve is a great place for birds of prey, this project will create a new place for reedbed birds to breed and feed.

“Bitterns, water rails, reed warblers, marsh harriers and reed buntings’ breeding grounds will be extended from those that already exist at RSPBs Leighton Moss which is only 6km away over Morecambe Bay.

"It’s wonderful that we can work with a local business, with locally grown plants, and with local people to make this exciting project happen”.

The funding for the project has come from SITA Trust - an ethical funding organisation dedicated to making lasting improvements to the natural environment and community life by distributing funds contributed by the recycling and resource management company SITA UK.

Since 1997 when SITA Trust began its funding programmes it has supported more than 3,600 projects to a combined value of more than £100m.