THE Earth Trust charity is marking the completion of the first phase of its River of Life project.
The charity is creating a new wetland nature reserve along a 2.5km stretch of the River Thames at Shillingford, near Wallingford.
Following the completion of landscaping work which started last year, phase two, to plant reedbeds and wildflower meadows, will now begin.
The trust wants to establish the nature reserve to support threatened wildlife, and improve the quality of river water.
It is expected to take several years to complete the scheme, which invovles about 50 hectares of Earth Trust land.
The project’s wetlands will also be better protected against flooding.
During phase three of the £1m project, a new pathway will be created through the area so that visitors can see the new habitats.
Earth Trust spokesman Jayne Manley said: “I’m thrilled that despite the weather causing the wettest winter on record, we have been able to achieve what we set out to do.
“We hope this project will serve as a model for encouraging people to learn about the importance of water and wetlands, while creating a safe haven for vulnerable wildlife.
“This is such a special project on so many different levels, and it wouldn’t have been made possible without the generosity of local people and grant making trusts.”
The new habitat will be linked with an existing area for wildlife, Little Wittenham Wood, which is a breeding site for great-crested newts.
The first phase of the River of Life was funded by the Environment Agency, Earth Trust supporters, members of the public and grant-making trusts.