Insh Marshes

(Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve)

The Insh Marshes, which lie to the southwest of Loch Insh between Kingussie and Kincraig, are bisected by the River Spey and comprise the most important area of natural floodplain wetland in Britain. The Spey here was once retained within substantial embankments, but these have been broken in several places to allow the floodplain to serve its original purpose. The marsh absorbs around four million cubic metres of floodwater, reducing the effects of flooding on houses and farmland downstream. Extending to 1160 ha (2866 acres), the Insh Marshes were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1986, a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site in 1997 and a National Nature Reserve in 2003. The marches are important for its plant species, invertebrates and birds, including osprey, ducks and waders. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) became involved in the management of the marshes in 1973 and now own substantial areas. There is a visitor centre at The Lookout, to the southeast.

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