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National nature reserve to be unveiled

07:58 11 June 2003

CREATION of a new National Nature Reserve (NNR) is being formally announced in Suffolk today following the success of two pioneering habitat projects.

CREATION of a new National Nature Reserve (NNR) is being formally announced in Suffolk today following the success of two pioneering habitat projects.

Designation of the Suffolk Coast NNR - covering nearly 2,500 acres of countryside in three nature reserves - is a reflection of the growing importance of the coastal area for wildlife.

The designation has been made by English Nature, the Government's wildlife adviser.

The new NNR includes the Hen Reedbeds, near Southwold, a 100-acre wetland area restored and enhanced by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust during the past three years.

It has already attracted the rare bittern as well as marsh harriers and other uncommon birds.

Also included in the new NNR is Dingle Marshes, 630 acres of wildlife-rich grazing marsh between Dunwich and Walberswick and jointly owned by the wildlife trust and the RSPB.

The third area to be included is the 1,660 acre Walberswick-Minsmere reedbed which already has NNR status. Much of this area is owned by Sir Charles Blois and is managed by English Nature.

Julian Roughton, Suffolk Wildlife Trust director, said the Suffolk coast was a wonderful place for wildlife and people and a "near wilderness experience" could be enjoyed in the area covered by the new NNR.

"The area is important for special species such as the otter, water vole and bittern, but also hosts a huge variety of other fabulous plants and animals – there's something to see everyday," he said.

Richard Rafe , head of English Nature's Suffolk team, said one of the major problems in lowland England was the fact that many remaining wildlife sites were small and fragmented.

"Here on the Suffolk coast we have linked several thousand acres under nature conservation management with a mosaic of many different habitats supporting a wide range of species, many of which are nationally rare," he added.

A "bio race" – to celebrate the NNR designation – is due to go-ahead today.

Three teams, representing the wildlife trust, English Nature and the RSPB, will set off by bicycle with the aim of "spotting" as many species of wildlife within the NNR boundary in four hours.

Suffolk has three other NNRs – the Brecks in the north west of the county, Cavenham Heath, near Bury St Edmunds, and Benacre and Easton Broad, between Southwold and Lowestoft.

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