Legacies left by long-term supporters gives Suffolk Wildlife Trust chance to buy meadow near Black Bourn River
- Credit: Archant
The generosity of two Suffolk Wildlife Trust supporters who left money to it in their wills has given the charity a chance to expand one of its best-known nature reserves and bring to reality a wild valley vision in the county’s agricultural heartlands.
Trust acquisition of 70 acres of meadows beside the Black Bourn River near the village of Norton would enable the charity to link the area to its existing 148-acre wildlife-friendly tenanted Grove Farm nature reserve.
But public support for the venture is vital – and the trust has launched a funding appeal with a target of £150,000.
The trust sees the opportunity to buy the meadows as a rare chance to acquire land in agriculture-dominated central Suffolk.
The chance has been made possible by the legacies of Gerald Ford and Mary Newman, with funds left to the trust by them establishing a base for the meadows purchase to which the public appeal money will be added.
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Trust chief executive Julian Roughton said Mr Ford was a lifelong naturalist who had lived in Essex but his family was originally from Tunstall, near Woodbridge. Mrs Newman was from Kent but her family had supported the trust’s work across Suffolk for more than a decade.
Such legacies were vitally important for the trust and enabled it to carry out major conservation projects that would not otherwise be possible, Mr Roughton said.
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The trust’s ambition for the Black Bourn’s wildlife went far beyond the hopefully extended trust-owned area that would be re-named the Black Bourn Valley nature reserve, he said.
“The Black Bourn meanders northwards from Grove Farm to Mickle Mere, eventually flowing into the Little Ouse, just south of Thetford,” he said.
“Over the last two years we have worked closely with landowners along the length of the Little Ouse to restore a more natural channel, bubbling with invertebrate life.
“This joined-up approach on the Little Ouse was inspired by our restoration of the section of river that flows through the reserve at Knettishall Heath. In a similar way, we hope buying and restoring this stretch of the Black Bourn at Grove Farm can be a catalyst for conservation enhancements all along the valley.”
An appeal leaflet being distributed to trust members says: “Looking across the valley from the fields of Grove Farm, the landscape is framed by the magnificent crack willows that track the course of the river.
“Their gnarled trunks, cracked limbs and knotted roots create an intricate tangle of habitat which is ideal for barn owls, bats and otters.
“Bringing riverside land into the trust’s ownership will enable us to make more of these natural features to create a wilder, wetter river corridor which will support more wetland wildlife.”
The appeal for funds has, literally, been kicked off by pupils and staff at Norton Primary School – they raised £165 for it with a wear-wellies-to-school day. The trust hopes to form a mutually beneficial partnership with the Norton community, including the school, and is offering guided walks around the meadows site tomorrow and on September 27.