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East Anglia Future 50

WATCH: Work begins on 'massive' 1,000 acre Suffolk nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 17:15 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:24 29 April 2019

Diggers break ground at the site of the new multi-million pound nature reserve at Carlton Marshes. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Diggers break ground at the site of the new multi-million pound nature reserve at Carlton Marshes. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Creating large scale wildlife habitats is "incredibly important" if the declines in some of the region's best-loved species are to be reversed.

The initial work at Carlton Marshes will see the creation of scrapes  PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe initial work at Carlton Marshes will see the creation of scrapes PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

So says Suffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conservation, Ben McFarland, speaking after work to expand the Trust's Carlton Marshes nature reserve near Lowestoft got under way last Friday April 26.

Mr McFarland says the region has suffered “incremental losses” of wetland, low-lying grassland and reed beds, as over the years land has been drained for farming - a trend which has led to a drastic decline in the numbers of some species who call these habitats home, such as the water vole, bittern, crane and some species of dragonfly.

But projects such as Carlton Marshes, where an additional 350 acres of wetland habitat is being created to form a wild area of 1,000 acres, can help these now rare species to re-establish.

Head of Conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust Ben McFarlandHead of Conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust Ben McFarland

READ: Lord Somerleyton's vision for a 'wilder and wetter' Suffolk

“Creating big scale wetland schemes is incredibly important to offset the losses we have seen over many decades,” he said.

“Scale is important to provide linkages between wetlands for birds. When it is completed Carlton Marshes will be massive and not far from Minsmere, and will add to the patchwork of sensitively managed landscapes along the East Anglian coast.

PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodPICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

“It's also easier to manage water at scale – there can be water at different levels across the site and it's easier to retain water.”

Contractors working at Carlton Marshes have begun by digging scrapes - shallow pools, which are excellent for supporting wading birds - and will also create what will be one of the biggest reedbeds in Suffolk.

Mr McFarland said the Trust was working with other conservation groups on a number of projects including the Suffolk Wader Strategy aimed specifically at sharing best practice and creating a wider scope of habitat for lapwings and redshanks.

He also said the Trust intends to increase it's work with private landowners in Suffolk to support them in creating additional wildlife friendly habitats on their properties.

Matt Gooch, Broads manager at Suffolk WildlifeTrust at Carlton Marshes. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodMatt Gooch, Broads manager at Suffolk WildlifeTrust at Carlton Marshes. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

He added: “While nature reserves are a critical part of stopping the decline in species, we recognise there is only so much we can do on nature reserves. We are working with landowners to inspire and guide them and to advise where they might get funding although with Brexit there is a lot of uncertainty in this area - and we hope there will be more clarity in the coming year.”

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