£8 million internationally-important wilderness in Suffolk gets the go-ahead after National Lottery Funding donates large sum

Creation of a 1,000 acre wetland as gateway to the Broads National Park

Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s vision for a vast new nature reserve in the Broads will become reality following a decision by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to award £4,063,000. The support will enable the Trust to complete the purchase of 348 acres of land surrounding Carlton Marshes nature reserve and create a 1,000 acre wild landscape that will become a gateway to the Broads National Park.

The grant is one of the largest ever given to a Wildlife Trust and will enable the biggest wetland creation in the Broads for a decade. Suffolk Wildlife Trust hopes it will become a National Nature Reserve in the next five years – reflecting its ecological importance as well as its social and cultural impact. Rare wildlife will get a boost from the restoration and Share Marsh, where the extremely rare American bittern was spotted last week, will be saved for posterity.

Players of the National Lottery are helping Suffolk Wildlife Trust give a new lease of life to wildlife in a spectacular largescale habitat restoration project. This will make a vital contribution to nature’s recovery in the UK and is also an investment in the health of our society and in our economy.

A state-of-the art visitor centre will be built on the site, helping to make the reserve a national wildlife destination and one of the most accessible nature experiences in the UK. The Broads National Park is unique within the UK National Parks network in having two significant urban centres alongside nationally significant wildlife habitats and landscape: Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Julian Roughton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, says:
“The support from the HLF means that Suffolk Wildlife Trust can now begin restoring this precious part of East Anglia and create a place where wildness spreads as far as the eye can see. This nature reserve will be now safeguarded forever, providing homes for some of the UK’s most iconic species.

“As well as being good for wildlife the new visitor centre, new walkways and boardwalks across the marshes will help even more people explore the landscape and discover the wonders of the natural world. This nature reserve will be a flagship conservation story for the UK showing how nature can be brought back.”

The whole project will cost around £8 million with a further £4 million coming from the Trust through legacy gifts, volunteer time and the ongoing public fundraising campaign – which is now just £95,000 away from the £1million target.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“Players of the National Lottery are helping Suffolk Wildlife Trust give a new lease of life to wildlife in a spectacular largescale habitat restoration project. This will make a vital contribution to nature’s recovery in the UK and is also an investment in the health of our society and in our economy. Never have people been so distant from nature and never have we needed it more. Contact with nature reduces anxiety and improves our physical and mental health. This wild haven and its wonderful new centre will allow people to get that all-important boost of positivity.”

carlton marshes

(C) Paul Sawyer

With this new purchase, HLF has helped acquire over 80,000 hectares of land for nature in the UK – over twice the size of the Isle of Wight. Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, says: “This is wonderful news for nature at Southern tip of the Broads – and it’s also so much more than that. Creating a new destination on the edge of Lowestoft will increase the opportunities for people in the town to visit the landscape on their doorstep. It will also be a magnet for visitors, from bird-watchers to holidaying families, bringing them further along the coast from the well-established tourist hotspots in Suffolk and Norfolk and boosting the local economy.

“This investment in the Broads National Park is just one part of a widespread package of funding from the National Lottery in the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth area, offering exciting opportunities to enjoy and explore history, culture and the natural environment.”

The purchase has also been publicly-backed by Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts. He said: “England’s wildlife is under great and ever-growing pressure. It is vital that we restore our land on a landscape scale so that it can support more wild plants and animals. Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s ambition to extend Carlton and Oulton Marshes is a unique opportunity to do just this and it has my whole-hearted support.”

The process of restoration and habitat creation is due to begin soon and by 2022 when the new visitor centre is complete, the whole of the western fringe of Lowestoft will have been transformed into a watery landscape. More than 150 acres of marsh, fen meadow and shallow pools will be created, perfect for wintering wildfowl and nationally declining waders like lapwing and redshank.

To donate to the campaign and help raise the last £95,000 visit www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org