12 August 1999
Help protect Anglia’s otters, farmers urged

AN appeal to support a new project that aims to protect and enhance the regions otter populations is going out to farmers in East Anglia.

Staff working for the new Anglian Otters and Rivers Project are to contact landowners in river catchment areas and seek co-operation and support in protecting existing riverside habitats and creating new ones, hopefully with grant aid.

Otters are making a gradual return to the regions waterways after being driven to the edge of extinction in the 1960s by pollution from farm and industrial chemicals and loss of habitat.

But conservationists say the secretive creatures still face dangers from agricultural and industrial activity and from rising public demand for recreation on rivers and riverbanks.

The new project is a partnership between country wildlife trusts, regional water companies and the Environment Agency.

Two project officers have been appointed, Sarah Norman and Steve Henson, to cover Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

They will be encouraging farmers and other landowners to create and restore riverside habitats such as wet grasslands, wet woodlands and reed-beds.

Mr Henson said the project did not have funds to hand out but it would be helping landowners to obtain grants from MAFF and other agencies through schemes such as Countryside Stewardship and the Environmentally Sensitive Areas.