Conservation

Because reedbeds are so important for wildlife and so many of them have been lost, the RSPB and other wildlife organisations have been working hard to restore reedbeds across the UK.

The way thatching reed is cut initialy appeared to represent a problem for conservation. Cutting reed for thatch means you cut the same patch of reed every year or, in some cases, every two years. This kind of cutting regime means that you are unlikley to get some of the birds that need very special conditions, like Reed Warbler and Bearded Tit, breeding in that part of the reedbed you cut. This led many people and organisations managing reedbeds for their wildlife value to consider cutting reed for thatching as bad practice and it was banned across many sites.

As a resut of a combination of these and other factors, somewhere between 60 and 80% of the reed used for thatching nowadays comes from locations in eastern Europe. There is, however, increasing interest in cutting reed to supply the home thatching market and recent research has demonstrated that, far from being detrimental to reedbed wildlife cutting reed for thatch can, if done properly, actually enhance the reedbed, making it more attractive to the birds, plants and animals that make their home there.