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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 06:15 GMT


Lottery helps rare species

Lottery funding should mean a more secure future for the reclusive bittern

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

The Heritage Lottery Fund is giving more than £2.25m to help nature conservation.

One grant, of £559,000, goes jointly to Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). They will use it to help to buy and protect the Dingle marshes, a 638 acre site on the Suffolk coast, which is recognised as an internationally important habitat.

The marshes link two existing reserves, at Walberswick and Minsmere, famous for its wealth of bird life. Conservationists describe Dingle as "a vital segment of a jigsaw of protected areas".

[ image: Dingle marshes are home to the striking avocet]
Dingle marshes are home to the striking avocet
Dingle marshes, which are costing £1m, are the first joint purchase by the RSPB and a county wildlife trust made possible by the fund.

They are a haven for bitterns, marsh harriers, avocets and the water vole, whose numbers nationally continue to decline. The starlet sea anemone is found in the waters that lap the reserve.

The Wildlife Trusts, the national association which works in partnership with the 46 county trusts, said they now expected to increase the numbers of several species on the marshes. Many of them are on the government's priority list for conservation.

Important locations

A spokesman for the Trusts said: "By working together we can now ensure the future of some of the most important wildlife habitats in Europe." The marshes will be managed in a partnership with the government's wildlife advisers, English Nature, which contributed £50,000 towards the purchase cost. Several other county trusts are receiving help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, some of them even more than Suffolk.

[ image: The black-tailed godwit lives on the new reserve]
The black-tailed godwit lives on the new reserve
The Somerset trust is being given £730,000 towards a five-year programme of work on 30 of its nature reserves. This will improve facilities for visitors, as well as helping species including dormice and greater horseshoe bats.

A grant of £619,500 goes to the Gwent Wildlife Trust to support work on 13 reserves, including the restoration of a medieval barn near Monmouth, and re-instating a flower-rich meadow. And the Radnorshire trust is to receive £385,400 to improve management on 10 of its reserves. It will change a conifer plantation back to the broad-leaved woodland which used to be there.

The Wildlife Trusts said they were "delighted" with this latest support from the lottery fund, which would enable them "to turn our long-cherished dreams into reality". The fund has already given more than £35m over the past four years to support the county trusts' work.

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