Suffolk: Fen hailed as one of country’s mst important wildlife sites

A NATURE reserve on the Suffolk-Norfolk border has been hailed as being among the most important wildlife sites in England.

Nature England says Redgrave and Lopham Fen, near Diss, is one of the last refuges for some of the country’s rarest species.

The conservation body says the site, which is deemed to be of special scientific interest, is home to the rare fen raft spider.

Peter Nottage, regional director for Nature England, said: “These sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) are all that stand between some of our most threatened species and total extinction.

“By providing essential habitat that may not be found elsewhere, they represent a life support system whose importance cannot be overstated.

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“It’s vital that we celebrate these last refuges and the species they sustain, so that we can ensure they receive the attention and support they need.”

Nature England also praised farmers, land managers and volunteers for keeping Suffolk’s 141 SSSIs in such good condition. It says it was the hard work of such groups that meant 93% of the county’s sites were either ‘favourable’ or moving in that direction.

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The organisation said so-called higher level stewardship grants, a combination of European Union and Whitehall funding, had been an important factor in helping SSSIs. The grants, which benefit around 45% of the country’s SSSIs, reward farmers and land managers for preserving wildlife habitats.

Mr Nottage added: “Against a backdrop of gradual decline in biodiversity over the past century, both nationally and internationally, the revival in the fortunes of England’s SSSIs represents a real success story.

“It will take a number of years for some improvements to be fully realised, and longer still for these to be translated into widespread increases in wildlife populations. However, I’m delighted to say that a strong foundation has been laid and in time the rewards should follow.”

Suffolk’s largest SSSI is Breckland Forest on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk, which covers an area of 18,000 hectares, while the geological site at Waldringfield Pit, near Woodbridge, is the smallest, taking up just 0.08 hectacres.

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