World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to act locally and support a precious and threatened habitat

Thursday 2nd February 2017

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is asking people to mark World Wetlands Day by supporting their appeal to create a giant new nature reserve in the southern Broads.

The Trust is trying to raise £1million to purchase land flanking their Carlton Marshes reserve to restore a magnificent wild landscape in the UK’s most nature-rich National Park – a place 11,000 species call home, with 67 dependent on the Broads for survival.

Julian Roughton, chief executive officer of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the global event on February 2 was an opportunity to reflect on the value of wetlands and the crucial role they play in supporting international wildlife.

He added: “Our vision to create 1,000 acres of wildness in the Broads is not just of local and national significance, it is internationally important. The reserve is located on a major flyway and we know if we create a rich landscape of water, marsh and mud, birds passing over on their global journeys will find it.”

The potential for wildlife has been made clear by small-scale restoration work already carried out at Carlton Marshes, with an extraordinary range of birds attracted to new wetland features, including purple heron, black-tailed godwit, great white egret, avocet, spoonbill and glossy ibis.

Mr Roughton said: “So far more than 100 bird species have been spotted in the shallow pools created on one small marsh. It is thrilling to imagine the benefits for wildlife of creating wetland habitats like this across 20 times the area.”

As well as being important for wildlife, healthy wetlands are also vital for humans – helping to reduce the impact of flooding and aiding recovery. Yet worldwide, wetlands are in alarming retreat; at least 64% of them have disappeared since 1900.

The Trust has currently raised a third of their fundraising target, with 2,200 people donating £335,239 to the appeal since it was launched in late October 2016.

The appeal, which has been personally endorsed by the President Emeritus of the Wildlife Trusts, Sir David Attenborough, was launched 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 education activities.

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.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust manages 50 free-to-visit nature reserves across the county, including a number of wetland sites such as Lackford Lakes, Redgrave & Lopham Fens, Trimley Marshes and Hen Reedbeds.

World Wetlands Day marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention – the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Alongside Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s campaign, Norfolk Wildlife Trust is running a £1million appeal to protect Hickling Broad.

Mr Roughton said: “It’s great to work side by side with Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Together, these opportunities will help to ensure the future of existing habitat and create new opportunities for wildlife within the Broads National Park.”