Private nature reserves increasing

MORE people in Suffolk are creating private nature reserves often after buying a few acres of farmland.The county wildlife trust said the total number of people seeking advice had now topped the 200 mark and the frequency of enquiries was increasing.

MORE people in Suffolk are creating private nature reserves often after buying a few acres of farmland.

The county wildlife trust said the total number of people seeking advice had now topped the 200 mark and the frequency of enquiries was increasing.

"In a world where wildlife habitats are increasingly under pressure, it shows how important it is becoming for individuals to play their part in conserving Suffolk's disappearing natural heritage," said Dorothy Casey, the trust's conservation manager.

"There is a growing awareness of just how valuable our natural environment is, not only for the creatures dependent on it, but for our own quality of life. It is something you cannot put a price on," she said.


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Private nature reserves, varying from small gardens to several acres of land, are now found in all parts of the county.

Although not open to the public as with the nature reserves owned by the trust, the RSPB and some other conservation groups, the private reserves are regarded as very important.

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"They are very valuable because they often provide a refuge for wildlife in an otherwise sterile agricultural landscape," Ms Casey said.

"It is certainly a growing trend and part of the reason may be that small pieces of farmland are easier to get hold of these days. We are getting an increasingly number of enquiries about how to manage private land for wildlife," she added.

One of the most attractive private reserves extends to five acres near the Alton Reservoir and is jointly owned by three neighbouring couples. They purchased the land six years ago.

One of the couples, Mike and Pauline Ewart, say that over a period of three years the number of plant species had grown naturally from very few to 135.

"Until six years ago the land was heavily fertilized," said Mr Ewart who has also provided "habitat heaps" of cut vegetation for use by reptiles.

Mr Ewart and a group of volunteers were yesterdaytinkering with a 42-year-old tractor, a Fordson Dextawhich has been purchased to make the job of annually cutting the nature reserve vegetation much easier.

People wanting advice in the creation of small, private nature reserves should contact Ms Casey or the wildlife trust's Wildlineofficer, Tracey Housley on 01473 890089.

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