A wildlife conservation group in Iraq has donated money to help support an appeal to buy land in Cley.

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Nature Iraq, a non-governmental organisation, has made a donation of $1,000 (around £615) to the National Wildlife Trust’s £1m appeal to purchase 143 acres of land to extend its nature reserve at Cley Marshes.

Nature Iraq has received help from colleagues in the UK previously, including through BirdLife International, and president Azzam Alwash has stayed in Cley during visits to England.

He said: “Nature Iraq has received great support from international organisations for the conservation of our famous Mesopotamian Marshes. This small token to support the extension of Cley Marshes is to honour that support and show our brotherly care for the environment everywhere.”

The two areas are also linked by the Sacred Ibis, which breeds in the Iraq marshes - the only place in the Middle East. The bird recently visited Cley Marshes on the section of land the Trust hopes to buy this summer.

If the appeal is successful the new land will expand Cley Marshes by one third and will create more important habitat for the rare marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded tits, otters, water voles and avocets which live in it and also for the thousands of migratory birds which use it and for the 100,000 people who visit each year.

Brendan Joyce, chief executive officer of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “I am extremely touched by the generosity of Nature Iraq in helping us to acquire the land which will join Cley and Salthouse Marshes together, especially given their own struggle to restore damaged ecosystems in their country.

“I knew that our appeal would attract attention and support from far and wide, but this was an unexpected surprise. We are delighted to receive this support from Iraq which makes us feel bonded in common cause in the conservation of wildlife and wild places.”

● To make a donation to the land purchase appeal ring 01603 625540 or visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal.

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