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DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Centre at Castle Espie, County Down, to see their work in biodiversity and protecting the natural environment.

The Minister had a tour of Castle Espie where he saw their work and listened to the opportunities and the challenges they address with respect to nature and climate.

The Minister said: “I would like to congratulate the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in marking thirty years of operation at Castle Espie. Today I had a tour of the site where I found out more about the WWT’s work.

“Castle Espie carries out valuable work in providing a site that allows the public to experience the natural environment while also educating them regarding the value of wetland ecosystems and their benefits to biodiversity, carbon capture and climate change resilience, and well-being.”

WWT have four priority policy areas; using wetlands to tackle climate change by capturing carbon, reduce flooding, support biodiversity and improve human wellbeing.

The Minister continued: “I am pleased that my Department were able to assist the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in supporting the forthcoming upgrade of their reed-bed filtration system through the Environment Fund.”

Paul Stewart, centre manager for Castle Espie Wetlands Centre said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minster to Castle Espie and for the recognition of the important work we do here on Strangford Lough, one of Europe’s most ecologically important water bodies.

“The reed beds at the centre not only provide a natural way of processing waste water but also provide habitat for wildlife. As a charity the WWT at Castle Espie are dependent on visitors, supporters and volunteers. We remain open to the public and are observing government guidance though the period of lockdown did severely impact us. The assistance of the department in upgrading our reed bed filtration system is particularly welcome at this time and will make an important contribution to the environment and our work here at Castle Espie.”