Nature experts are confident large-scale restoration work at three nature spots in the Canterbury district will “massively benefit” wildlife populations.
The sprawling expanse of the Seasalter Levels, Blean Woods and the Wraik Hill nature reserve have all undergone extensive development over the past year.
It is hoped the now-completed work will help combat the effects of climate change and boost biodiversity in each of the areas.
With the aid of £1.9 million from a Defra fund, the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and city council carried out the restoration project.
At Seasalter, wetlands stretching for 650 acres had stood neglected for decades.
But thanks to the renovation scheme, new dams, embankments, dykes and pipework have all been installed.
Invasive plants have also been removed from waterways and the reserve has welcomed green sandpipers for the first time, as well as an increased number of lapwings.
As a result of the work, the Site of Special Scientific Interest will be more resilient to climate change by enabling water to be retained on the grazing marsh during spring and summer months when birds are raising families.
It is now hoped the levels, which have always been inaccessible, will be opened up for guided walks in the future.
Over at Blean Woods, a large section has been ‘re-wetted’ following the installation of dozens of natural dams.
The dams, many of which were installed by volunteers from the local community, will help the woodlands to retain water, which will be able to gradually seep through – creating a rich area for biodiversity.
At Wraik Hill nature reserve in Whitstable, 10,000 metres of invasive scrub has been removed – resulting in a flower-rich grassland and habitat corridor for wildlife.
The site’s pond has been restored, and new information boards and fencing have been installed. Visitor access has also been improved with a new footpath at the entrance.
Alan Johnson, the RSPB area manager for Kent, said: “These projects will not only massively benefit key wildlife species in Kent, but also help combat the effects of climate change in this county, which suffers from extended drought periods, the lowest rainfall in the UK and high temperatures throughout the summer.”
Cllr Ashley Clark, the council’s lead for open spaces, said: “There is far more to diversity and combating climate change than just planting trees and in some cases that can be counter-productive.
“Green spaces such as these are vital bastions of diversity but that does not happen on its own. They have to be worked on and enhanced to maintain a balance of vital key habitats.
“This is all the more important with ongoing development and population pressure in Kent, the effects of which go far beyond the actual margin of the developments themselves.”