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Suffolk Wildlife Trust launches £200,000 appeal to extend its Lackford Lakes reserve

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 September 2017

Part of the 77 acres Suffolk Wildlife Trust aims to buy as an extension to its Lackford Lakes nature reserve, near Bury St Edmunds. Picture: STEVE AYLWARD - SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST

Part of the 77 acres Suffolk Wildlife Trust aims to buy as an extension to its Lackford Lakes nature reserve, near Bury St Edmunds. Picture: STEVE AYLWARD - SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST

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Suffolk Wildlife Trust today launches an appeal to give one of its most popular and important nature reserves a 30th birthday present - a 77-acre extension containing special Breckland habitat that has remained untouched by agriculture for 25 years.

Veteran Suffolk naturalist and conservationist Bernard Tickner, who effectively founded Lackford Lakes nature reserve 30 years ago and who is making a substantial contribution to the new appeal. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDVeteran Suffolk naturalist and conservationist Bernard Tickner, who effectively founded Lackford Lakes nature reserve 30 years ago and who is making a substantial contribution to the new appeal. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The trust is calling on the public to donate £200,000 towards the purchase of the land which would increase the size of the charity’s Lackford Lakes reserve near Bury St Edmunds to 400 acres.

In the 30th anniversary year of the reserve’s foundation, the purchase will allow the trust to safeguard a site of distinctive Breckland grass-heath habitat where rare and iconic Breckland species have survived and thrived. The wetland edge of the land, alongside the River Lark, is also an important habitat for nightingales - a species whose UK range has seriously contracted in recent years.

Veteran Suffolk naturalist Bernard Tickner has a special affinity with Lackford Lakes and has already pledged to make a substantial contribution to the appeal. Trust vice-president Mr Tickner, who lives adjacent to the lakes and was recently awarded an MBE for services to nature and conservation, effectively founded the nature reserve 30 years ago. He initiated the transformation of the site from a working aggregates quarry to a rich wildlife habitat and in 1987 bought part of the site and gave it to the trust.

Mr Tickner, 93, said: “Lackford Lakes is now enjoyed by many species, rare and common, and the trust has a remarkable chance to create even more first-class habitat to allow even more wildlife to move in. What a way to mark the 30th anniversary of the nature reserve.”

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUSTJulian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST

Trust chief executive Julian Roughton sees the expansion opportunity as part of the charity’s Living Landscape vision. He said: “As the ecological anchor of a Living Landscape, our nature reserves are more important than ever, and the larger they are the better for wildlife.

“Large sites and networks of habitat are better able to support viable populations of species and are less affected by impacts from surrounding land.

“The opportunity we have now to extend Lackford Lakes is about safeguarding Suffolk’s wonderful natural heritage, but it is also about sharing it.”

The land the trust was looking to buy was last cultivated 25 years ago and grass-heath typical of the Brecks had started to move back in, he said.

Flashback to more than 30 years ago - part of the aggregates quarry site that is now Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Lackford Lakes nature reserve. Picture: SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUSTFlashback to more than 30 years ago - part of the aggregates quarry site that is now Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Lackford Lakes nature reserve. Picture: SUFFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST

Neighbouring Lackford village, the land adjoined similar fields purchased by the trust in 2005. Linking them together would create a “significantly bigger area” in which specialist Breckland species including plants, invertebrates and birds such as stone-curlew could flourish.

The appeal is launched while the trust’s public plea for £1million to extend its Carlton Marshes nature reserve, near Lowestoft, is ongoing, having recently passed the £700,000 mark, but Mr Roughton said it was not thought that either initiative would suffer as a result.

“We had to launch the Lackford Lakes appeal now as the land became available and we hope it will be a short and successful one,” he said. “We have found that people in the west of Suffolk have a tremendous loyalty to the reserves in their area, perhaps in a way they might not have for the Suffolk Broads, and so we feel this appeal is going to be supported by different people.”

Donations to the Lackford Lakes appeal can be made at www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org

Lackford Lakes: Special feature - see our eaenvironment pages in tomorrow’s East Anglian Daily Times.

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