Broads RSPB site manager gets national award for 17 years of dedicated conservation work
- Credit: Archant
The manager of one of Norfolk's most important conservation sites has been rewarded for his work with a national award.
Mark Smart, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water nature reserve in the Broads, has been awarded the Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in partnership with the Marsh Christian Trust.
The award was presented by Peter Titley of the Marsh Christian Trust at WWT's annual general meeting in Slimbridge on Friday, and was made in recognition of Mark's work over the last 17 years, bringing together landowners, conservationists, local authorities and scientists to turn the site into one of the most important lowland wet grasslands in Europe.
Each spring and summer, Berney Marshes is home to 300 pairs of nesting wading birds, including lapwing and redshank, and more than 100,000 wildfowl return to the site each winter from their breeding grounds as far away as Siberia and Greenland.
Before joining the RSPB as a trainee reserve warden 25 years ago Mr Smart worked as an agricultural mechanic on a number of large farming estates in Eastern England.
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It was during this time that he developed a love of conservation, helping to manage land for wildlife as a volunteer in Peterborough.
His agricultural background has served him well in his career with the RSPB, enabling him to bridge the divide between conservation management of wet grassland habitats for wildlife and commercial grazing operations in the Broads.
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Mr Smart said: 'I am incredibly proud but also very surprised to have been nominated let alone to have been awarded the Marsh Award.
'I feel very lucky that I have had the opportunity to make a difference for wildlife by managing a fantastic nature reserve, at the same time as helping the farming community maintain the amazing landscapes we have in the Broads.
'This wouldn't be possible without the support and efforts of lots of other people, from scientists and volunteers to landowners and farmers themselves, and I hope they will see this award as recognition of their achievement.'
The Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement is run by the Marsh Christian Trust in association with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and recognises an individual whose sustained activities have resulted in a long term change for wetlands or their wildlife.