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Our Green Story: Castle Espie Wetland Centre
Castle Espie is an international exemplar of habitat restoration, sustainable design and green tourism. One of ten safe, accessible wetland centres in the UK and the only one in Northern Ireland, Castle Espie is run by a conservation charity, WWT, founded by Sir Peter Scott and supported by Sir David Attenborough.
It’s a beautiful place to visit - a magical mix of wide estuary views, tidal lagoon, eel-grass mats, woodland walks, salt marshes and reed beds to get up close to nature and wildlife. Its 60 acres host Ireland’s largest collection of native and exotic water-birds and an abundance of habitats for other wildlife – bats, kingfishers, linnet and other songbirds, waterbirds and wildflowers. Species improvements include kingfisher banks, tern islands, otter dens, bat boxes, dragonfly and damselfly pools, wader scrapes and roosts.
Thousands of migrant birds, including a large proportion of the world’s population of light-bellied brent geese, overwinter right in front of Castle Espie.
Its Gallery, Ireland’s only environmental art-space, hosts many artists, sculptors, craftspeople and photographers’ work - experiencing nature through art. A focus on seasonal events include Northern Ireland Puddle Jumping Championships, Giant LEGO® Brick Workshops, Animal Trail and Workshops and an Easter Duck Quest for youngsters.
The focus on children - and educational visits - extends to the centre being buggy and wheelchair friendly and with zones for children to look at, watch and learn about species and the importance of wetlands. The pond zone, secret swamp, sensory garden, play barn and climbing wall are all self-explanatory while the hides and Limekiln Observatory offer excellent views for bird watching.
The centre’s buildings incorporate numerous eco-friendly features, including reclaimed and recycled materials, biomass boiler, a wildlife garden and energy systems fuelled by the sun and wind, rainwater harvesting that supplies all bathrooms, as well as a reed bed filtration system for waste water.
Wetlands face huge challenges, but they’re also part of the solution to the climate crisis; they contribute to natural flood management and carbon capture and indeed there is current research into the therapeutic benefits blue spaces have on our health and wellbeing.
Open to visit 7 days a week, 363 days a year from 10.00am, call 02891 874 146 or view the website.
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