The drought in England may last well into next year, warns the National Drought Group (NDG), made up of government agencies, water companies, farming and environmental groups. Rainfall returned to normal in September, but not enough to kick-start the process of recharging aquifers and reservoirs. Consistently above average rainfall is needed throughout the winter to bring England out of drought, a scenario that is deemed unlikely to occur. In Canterbury, October’s rainfall was 66% of the long-term mean, offering little comfort.
How will this affect Hambrook Marshes? They are currently drier than they have ever been in October. Ditches that should be brimful of water are just muddy tracts, and there are no soggy areas to attract in duck, gulls or snipe. The five-year management plan for the Marshes is due for review in 2023, and the trustees will have to consider various options for its future. Can it return to a marshy haven, or should we consider managing it as dry grassland, scrub or woodland? The wetland ecology of the site is breaking down, and may collapse altogether if the climate emergency heralds a succession of heatwaves as severe as this year’s.