Defining moment for nature reserve after £4m funding boost
PUBLISHED: 09:01 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 23 April 2018
A wildlife trust’s visionary plan to create a vast new nature reserve on the fringes of Lowestoft is to go-ahead thanks to a grant of more than £4m, it is revealed today.
In what has been called a defining moment for Suffolk’s conservation efforts, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has been awarded £4,063,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - one of the largest grants ever received by a wildlife trust.
It will enable the trust to complete the purchase of 348 acres surrounding its Carlton Marshes nature reserve, creating a 1,000-acre landscape-scale wildlife wonderland that the charity says will become a “gateway to the Broads National Park.”
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The project, supported by Sir David Attenborough, will be the biggest habitat restoration and wetland creation in the National Park for a decade.
It is being seen as a major boost for the region’s tourism industry and a massive fillip for nature education in the area.
It is hoped the immense site will become a National Nature Reserve in the next five years.
Trust chief executive Julian Roughton said the award from HLF was a defining moment for the county’s conservation efforts and one of the most significant events in the charity’s 56-year history.
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He said: “The support from the HLF means that Suffolk Wildlife Trust can now begin restoring this precious part of East Anglia and create a place where wildness spreads as far as the eye can see. This nature reserve will be now safeguarded forever, providing homes for some of the UK’s most iconic species.
“As well as being good for wildlife the new visitor centre, new walkways and boardwalks across the marshes will help even more people explore the landscape and discover the wonders of the natural world. This nature reserve will be a flagship conservation story for the UK showing how nature can be brought back.”
The whole project will cost about £8m, with a further £4m coming from the trust through legacy gifts, volunteer time and the continuing £1m public fundraising campaign – which is now just £95,000 short of its target.
The purchase has been publically-backed by Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts.
He said: “England’s wildlife is under great and ever-growing pressure. It is vital we restore our land on a landscape scale so it can support more wild plants and animals.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s ambition to extend Carlton and Oulton Marshes is a unique opportunity to do just this and it has my whole-hearted support.”
HLF’s decision to grant the major funding follows nine months of community and stakeholder consultation by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust – work that was also funded by National Lottery players.
Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF in the East of England, said: “Creating a new destination on the edge of Lowestoft will increase the opportunities for people in the town to visit the landscape on their doorstep. It will also be a magnet for visitors, from birdwatchers to holidaying families.”
To donate to the continuing £1m public appeal visit www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org