Management of waterways at Oulton Broad as seen from the air
By Richard Haugh
Suffolk Wildlife Trust is launching an ambitious campaign to enlarge and link the five nature reserves which make up the Suffolk Broads.
The Trust is aiming to raise £50,000 to work on the land which covers 1,000 acres in the Carlton and Oulton area.
Matt Gooch, warden at Carlton Marshes, says this along with £100,000 from Biffaward will benefit lots of species.
"We're right on the edge of Lowestoft and have barn owl, marsh pea, water vole and cetti's warbler come here."
Carlton Marshes has been managed by Suffolk Wildlife for 35 years - Oulton Marshes, Castle Marshes, North Cove and Camps Heath followed.
The area in the north of Suffolk already hosts a wide range of flora and fauna - many of which are nationally rare - but Matt says the appeal being launched in December 2009 will further enhance this.
"The Suffolk Broads project came about by the idea of a living landscape and that wildlife doesn't stick to a nature reserve - it doesn't know boundaries," he said.
Matt says the public's enthusiasm will drive the campaign forward
"There are three key words - to recreate, reconnect and restore important habitats. Reconnect is joining up isolated patches of habitat, whether it's grass marshes, hedgerows or putting land back to grazing marshes.
"Some grazing marshes aren't managed in the most beneficial way to wildlife so we bring them back to a management regime that is suitable.
"At the moment the site is fairly sterile. The grazing marshes are high and dry, the dyke levels are low, there aren't really any in-field features in terms of water."
Water management is key to the project. With a larger area to manage Matt says wildlife will have more natural corridors to move through.
"Lots of dykes run everywhere and if we can have a larger area to manage you can lift water levels in places, create wet flashes, scrapes and foot drains.
"These provide good feeding edges for redshanks, lapwing - we may even get teal and widgeon down here."
On a two hour tour of the marshes, Matt spoke frequently about the importance of working with neighbouring farmers, who he says have done a lot of the groundwork which is essential for the campaign's success.
Work has resulted in more water in the in-field areas at Carlton
"We're not talking about a blank canvas when it comes to recreating - we're not starting from fresh.
"Neighbouring landowners do important work by having large grass margins on their arable areas in the valley and spring cultivated fields which provide ideal situation for lapwings.
"There's already lots of work going on in the valley which we can complement.
"The appeal is really helping the Trust to buy land in this area and to help with farmland advisory work as well as enhancing work that already takes place in the valley.
"People use these sites to walk their dogs, to watch birds, to fish, they really appreciate these areas and we're hopefully enhancing them and making them more accessible for the future."
Matt grew up in the area and returned to live in Suffolk after completing his studies.
He plays football for a local team, which co-incidentally fines him each time he appears in the press, and on the day I met him he was returning to Carlton after work to go barn owl spotting with his mother-in-law.
Carlton Marshes hosts a number of rare species such as cetti's warblers
He's passionate about the region and hopes the campaign will be met with equal enthusiasm from around the Lowestoft area.
"The real thing about this project is to get local people involved. They're the ones who will appreciate the project the most - with habitat management work that they can see happening.
"Their involvement will drive the project forward."
Suffolk Wildlife Trust is encouraging anyone wishing to donate to the appeal to do so between 7-9 December, through the
scheme. In this period (terms and limits permitting) donations will be doubled - so a £5 donation from you will mean £10 for the project.