Crowd funding appeal to replace hides wrecked by 2013 storm surge at Snettisham RSPB reserve
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Conservationists hope a 30-day crowd funding appeal will raise enough money to replace hides at a coastal wildlife reserve which were destroyed by the 2013 storms.
Wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham is supporting the call to construct a bespoke new viewing structure at Snettisham, near King's Lynn.
The RSPB vice president has narrated a short volunteer-made appeal video, saying the new hide will 'help inspire a whole new generation of nature lovers with the incredible sights and sounds of The Wash'. Snettisham lies on the edge of the expansive tidal mud flats of The Wash – the UK's largest estuarine habitat and its most important site for wading birds and wildfowl.
Every year thousands of people from around the country travel to see the tens of thousands of birds attracted to The Wash by the abundance of food in the mud. Since 2013 though, they have had to do without the two hides.
Site manager Jim Scott said: 'The devastating tidal surge in December 2013 left a trail of destruction along the Norfolk coastline and at our coastal reserves. The surge completely wiped out two of our hides at Snettisham, quite apart from the damage done to the sea banks and lagoons.
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'Today marks the start of trying to rebuild this wonderful place so that people can experience the wildlife of The Wash at the very heart of it.
'Snettisham is a place that thousands of people enjoy every year. With their support I hope we can make it even better and inspire more people, especially the younger generation, with the amazing wildlife of this special place.'
Steve Rowland, the RSPB's public affairs manager, told supporters at the appeal launch Snettisham offers some of the UK's best wildlife spectacles as birds come and go through the year.
'We want to keep sharing this place with people but we want to protect these birds and stop them being disturbed by people,' he said. 'It will give us a world-class viewing facility for world-class wildlife spectacles.'
The new hide will replace the two that were lost in the storm. It has been designed to be more resilient to floods while providing people with fantastic views of the main attraction – Snettisham's wildlife – and will be a building for everyone, improving the experience for all visitors including birdwatchers, photographers, walkers and wildlife lovers.
Crowd funding allows members of the public to donate money for a specific purpose in exchange for rewards, many of which are exclusive and certainly 'money can't buy' experiences.
Rewards range from a special pin badge for anyone donating £15, to the chance to name the hide for £30,000. Mr Rowland added: 'Hopefully we won't get any Boaty McBoatface names.'
James Robinson, the RSPB's regional director, said the idea for the appeal came from Hayley Roan, regional projects manager with the society.
'It's our first-ever crowd funding appeal,' he said. 'We're really excited about it but there's a sense of trepidation as we get into something new.'
The appeal is now live here.