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Suffolk coast to get new home for wetland wildlife

Last modified: 07 May 2015

Female lapwing in rushy pasture, Northumberland

Restoring 33 hectares of coastal grazing marsh next to existing Boyton Marsh nature reserve will increase habitat for threatened birds like lapwing

Image: Andy Hay

The RSPB has acquired 33 hectares of farmland adjacent to its Boyton Marsh nature reserve in Suffolk, which it plans to turn into a new ‘extension’ to the existing wetland that will help to start creating a network of homes for wildlife in the wider Suffolk landscape.

Aaron Howe, Senior Site Manager for the RSPB’s South Suffolk Coast Reserves, said, “This is great news for wildlife on the Suffolk Coast. Boyton and Hollesley Marshes, along with Havergate Island, are internationally important sites for wildlife. By enlarging areas under nature conservation management we are working towards a more connected landscape for nature in the Alde-Ore Estuary.”

“This project won’t just increase the area of high quality wetland habitat for species like lapwing and avocet, it will also bring Boyton Marsh and Hollesley Marsh a step closer together. Along with the successful project at Hollesley Marshes this project will contribute to a vision of providing a network of new wetlands to boost wildlife on the Suffolk Coast.”

The RSPB has been able to buy the land thanks to a £500,000 grant through the Landfill Communities Fund of Waste Recycling Group (WRG) administered by the environmental body WREN, which will also fund the work to transform the land into a wildlife rich wetland.

Lisa Green, WREN Operations Manager, said, “We are committed to supporting projects which protect and expand some of the country’s most important ecosystems. We are delighted to help the RSPB purchase this site to extend their nature reserve at Boyton Marsh which will help safeguard the future of this nationally important landscape for generations to come.”

The news comes just a year after the completion of another ambitious WREN-funded wetland landscaping project transformed an area of grassland at the RSPB’s Hollesley Marsh nature reserve, just down the coast, where the creation of a new ‘scrape’- a shallow lagoon dotted with gently sloping islands, literally made for wading birds- paid almost immediate dividends for wildlife in the area.

“The wildlife didn’t waste time moving in once the work was finished,” said Mr Howe. “The results were amazing: Lapwing, oystercatcher, avocet and redshank all bred successfully that year.

“Thanks to this new grant, we will be able to restore arable farmland back into the coastal grazing marsh it would historically have been- and with it see all sorts of wildlife, from wetland birds, to water voles and freshwater insects, move back in.”

Dr. James Robinson, the RSPB’s Director for Eastern England, said, “We know our wildlife is in trouble. The 2013 ‘State of Nature’ report brought home the fact that more than half of our species are in decline. It’s no exaggeration to describe the situation as a state of emergency.

“Just as the drive to build new homes aims to provide people around the country with shelter and protection that is essential to life, so our wildlife needs us to step up to make sure it has a home. That is what this exciting project to extend the wetland at Boyton Marsh is doing, with the RSPB giving nature a home in a landscape which we are still lucky enough to share with amazing yet threatened creatures like water voles and lapwings.”

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