Charity offers its support for

new nature reserve in Broads

The Geoffrey Watling Charity donates £25k for purchase of land that will form part of 1,000 acre landscape-scale reserve near Lowestoft

Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s bid to establish a new 1,000 acre nature reserve in the Broads National Park has taken another significant step forward.

The Geoffrey Watling Charity, which is dedicated to helping other local charities, has donated £25,000 towards the purchase of Share Marsh, a crucial part of the Trust’s vision to create a wetter, wilder landscape that has the potential to join up horizons.

Matt Gooch, Broads Warden for Carlton Marshes, said the donation would help secure part of a nationally important landscape that will benefit both wildlife and people.

He added: “The generosity that people have shown throughout this campaign has been nothing short of phenomenal and clearly demonstrates just how important this precious corner of East Anglia is.

“We are so grateful to The Geoffrey Watling Charity for their support in ensuring that this part of Suffolk will be secured for future generations to explore and enjoy.”
The Norwich-based charity was founded by Geoffrey Watling in 1993, following the death of his only daughter Carol.

Mr Watling, a respected businessman credited with twice saving Norwich City Football Club, where he remained the President up until his death in 2004, was intensely proud of his home area and had a special attachment to the Broads – racing speed boats on Oulton Broad in the 1950s.

Mr Watling’s nephew Alan, a trustee of The Geoffrey Watling Charity, said:  “Geoffrey would be pleased that he can be remembered by helping The Suffolk Wildlife Trust.”

The Trust has currently raised more than £630,000 towards the £1million needed to make the whole project possible.

A public appeal, which has been publicly backed by Sir David Attenborough, was launched in October last year after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) approved the Trust’s initial plans for the land purchase, together with proposals to improve the reserve for visitors and develop wide-ranging activities for people to learn about and get closer to nature.

The HLF has awarded the Trust a development grant of £246,300 to work on the detailed plans necessary to secure a full grant of £4m for the project. The Trust’s appeal will go towards match funding that grant.

The land purchase, the biggest attempted in the Trust’s 55-year history, will lead to the creation of a mix of wet habitats that so many nationally rare animals and plants depend on.

The new reedbed will be the largest in the Broads, supporting breeding marsh harrier and bittern, as well as reed bunting, grasshopper warbler and lesser known species like white mantled wainscot moth, which has only been found in Suffolk.

A seven-mile network of restored freshwater ditches will be amongst the best in the UK and will allow Broadland specialists including plants, water voles and the rare fen raft spider to spread across the landscape.

More than 200 acres of marsh, fen meadow and shallow pools will be created, with thousands of metres of soft muddy edges, for wintering wildfowl and nationally declining waders like lapwing and redshank to feed.

The Trust’s campaign to buy the land flanking Carlton Marshes has recently attracted national attention, including a visit from Countryfile. The extra interest in the reserve that such coverage has created has led to the introduction of a pop-up café at Carlton Marshes, which will be present during weekends throughout the summer.

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