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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Trust's 750,000 bid for Skokholm
Click here to take a trip around Skokholm Island

A wildlife trust is launching an appeal to buy a west Wales island that was the first bird observatory in the country.

The owners of Skokholm Island have put the 247-acre wildlife haven up for sale and the Wildlife Trust of south and west Wales has been given first option.

It has managed the island three miles off the Pembrokeshire coast for 50 years but now needs 750,000 to own it.

The charity is looking to a range of funding bodies, businesses, its members and the public for help.

The island is home to around 30 different species of breeding birds, migratory birds, seals, rabbits and variety of other animals.

Dr Madeleine Havard
We are not planning any huge changes but some improvements need to be made and we could resume some of the long-term research
Dr Madeleine Havard

The only long-term inhabitants are the seasonal wardens.

They play host to the 300 plus birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts who enjoy residential breaks on Skokholm each year and the occasional repair man visiting the lighthouse.

Often inaccessible in stormy weather, the island has been part of the Dale Castle Estate for more than three centuries.

Dr Madeleine Havard, chief executive of the wildlife trust, said the charity had been made preferred bidder and was hoping to complete the purchase by the end of the year.

"It's really exciting because we have managed the island now for over 50 years but it will give us the security and enable us to invest a bit more in the infrastructure," she explained.

"Pioneering naturalist"

"We are not planning any huge changes but some improvements need to be made and we could resume some of the long-term research that went on when the island was the first bird observatory in the country.

Seals at Skokholm Island

"It was bought in the 1650s by one of the current family's ancestors for the princely some of 300 but it's going to cost us a little bit more than that.

"It came to the trust from one of our founder members, Ronald Lockley, who took up a lease in 1927 and he did farm and then set up the first bird observatory.

"He was a pioneering naturalist."

Dr Havard said it was with great regret that the current owners had decided to sell but she said she was grateful they wanted it to go to the trust.

"We are looking to raise at least 750,000 that will help us buy the island and manage it in the future.

"We are a small charity and are looking to a range of bodies to help us and are also looking the private sector, local industry and, of course, our members and the general pubic."

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