'Fantastic news': Lincolnshire's bird ‘superhighway’ in running for World Heritage status

UNESCO recognition of Lincolnshire’s migratory bird ‘superhighway’ could change the dynamic of the coast, putting it on the ‘go to’ list for birdwatchers across the globe.
A wader roost captured by David Curtis at Gibraltar Point in September last year.A wader roost captured by David Curtis at Gibraltar Point in September last year.
A wader roost captured by David Curtis at Gibraltar Point in September last year.

Gibraltar Point and The Wash could be counted among some of the world’s most important heritage sites, like the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Kilimanjaro – and the news has been welcomed by both Lincolnshire County Council from a tourism point of view and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust..

The east coast wetlands, which also includes Frampton Marshes, have become one of just five new sites added to the UK’s ‘Tentative List’ of World Heritage sites, the first stage towards joining UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The application was initiated in 2022 by the RSPB, National Trust, and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), and an independent expert panel described the east coast wetlands proposal as presenting “a clear and convincing case for the potential to demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value”.

The wetlands play a vital role in supporting migratory birds along the East Atlantic Flyway migratory route which stretches from Yorkshire to Kent.

Kevin Wilson, warden at Gibraltar Point said: “Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is delighted that the East Atlantic Flyway has been included on the UKs list of proposed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“This chain of wetlands along our East Coast support millions of water birds throughout the year, but especially whilst they are feeding and resting on their long migration between the Arctic and Africa.

“They are therefore of international importance and World Heritage Site status would further serve to highlight their outstanding value as places for both wildlife and people at a time when pressures on such sites from development and recreation has never been higher.

“The designated area would cover the Trust’s own nature reserves on the Humber and the Wash, including Gibraltar Point just south of Skegness.

"At any one time, over 400,000 water birds may be dependent on the Wash for food and shelter and the high tide roost at Gibraltar Point can contain over 100,000 of these birds.

"As they fly to and from the roost, the swirling flocks provide one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles in the UK and the Trust regularly runs events to allow people to see it for themselves.”

Coun Colin Davie, Executive Councillor for Economy and Place at Lincolnshire County Councii, said the nomination for the wetlands to be included in the East Atlantic Flyway was fantastic news for the county.

"It is not just for the natural environment and the migratory birds that rely on this route but also in terms of tourism because it will allow us to extend the season.

"Thousands of bird watchers across the globe will put the East Atlantic Flyway on their ‘go to’ list.

"Our continued investment in the Coastal Country Park and work with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB underlines the need for this important location to be given this designation so it is safeguarded – not just for the birds that use it but for everyone who cares about the natural environment we are so lucky to have as part of out great county.