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Wetland restoration in St. Aidan’s Nature Reserve

United Kingdom St Aidan's Nature Park in Leeds

A converted opencast coal mine provides a buffer zone for flooding and habitats for diverse species.

The Environment Agency, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Leeds City Council have converted a former opencast coal mine into a 400 hectare wetland nature reserve. This 7.5 million cubic metre capacity flood plain reportedly reduces flood risk to local communities while providing habitat for diverse species including lapwing, curlew, and bitterns. The floodplain-like protection system is preferable to structural barriers as it reduces flooding of communities overall rather than simply displacing flooding to another area. A long-retired dragline, once the largest in the world helping to extract millions of tonnes of coal from the area, now attracts tourists as it has become a large nestbox, home to nesting kestrels, owls, stock doves, and carrion crows.

Case effectiveness on

Climate change

Mitigation: Not reported
Adaptation: Positive

The converted wetland has a water storage capacity of 75 million cubic metres which has been reported to provide flood protection for local communities.

Ecosystem health

Ecological effect: Positive

The reported increased presence of red-listed species such as lapwing and curlew indicates that biodiversity measures might be improving.

Socioeconomic outcomes

The nature reserve attracts tourists year-round and boasts plenty of recreation activities including twelve kilometres of trails and panoramic viewpoints.

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Wetland ecosystem blue skies
Photo © Kevin Ortiz

Intervention type

  • Created habitats

Ecosystem type

  • Created wetland

Climate change impacts addressed

  • Freshwater flooding


  • State/district/local government agency
  • National conservation/environment organisation

Societal challenges

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction

Literature info

  • Grey literature
Case methodology not reported

External case resources

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