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Drought, Storage & Irrigation

The traditional summer scene of dragonflies skimming over a glistening stream could be a rare sight in parts of England this year as the widespread drought begins to take its toll on the nation’s wildlife.

The Environment Agency has taken measures to help protect nationally important wildlife sites and help wetland managers to maintain water levels in nationally important wetland sites during drought.

They include provisions to extend the licence season, make use of unused licensed water, or allowing higher pumping rates to capture water during any rainfall periods that occur.

Dragonflies, warns the Environment Agency, are just one of the species that will be severely affected if the drought continues - along with water voles, great crested newts, and wading birds such as curlews and lapwings.

Some parts of the country have seen the driest 18 months since records began, and in drought affected areas it is likely that some streams, ponds and shallow lakes will be completely dry before aquatic insects like dragonflies are fully formed, and the insects will consequently perish. Newly hatched

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Helen Perkins, spokesperson for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “There is no doubt that a wildlife tragedy is unfolding in parts of the country and wildlife is suffering the consequences of our unsustainable water use. We welcome the Environment Agency taking measures to enable water levels to be maintained at important wildlife sites. “After such a long period of low rainfall, some species may not recover and could be lost from some rivers and wetlands if we don’t act now. We urgently need to change the way we use water at home and across businesses. Saving water now could save wildlife from an absolute disaster.”

tadpoles from toads and frogs, as well as from protected great crested newts, face a similar fate.

Birds will also suffer as suitable wetland breeding sites for wading birds dry up. Waders such as Snipe, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit all need moist soils to probe with their long bills to extract food such as worms to feed themselves and their young. These species have declined rapidly in much of England in recent

Redshanks suffer as wetlands dry up

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