Hickling Broad January 2017 by Richard Osbourne

World Wetlands Day celebrates major public commitment to securing Norfolk’s finest wetland

Thursday 02 February, 2017

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced today on World Wetlands Day that over £500,000 has been donated so far to the Hickling Broad Land Purchase appeal in just 3 months.  The Trust is working to raise £1 million before the 31 March 2017 deadline to purchase 655 acres of the Hickling Broad Estate that were put on the open market in September 2016.  

However, there is still a way to go to ensure that this internationally important and wildlife-rich wetland is secured for the future. Hickling Broad is a Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR).  It is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive and as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive in recognition of its European importance for its habitats and the wildlife that depends on them.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Brendan Joyce said, “Hickling Broad is a nationally and internationally important wildlife jewel. This will be the biggest land purchase in the Trust’s 90 years’ history. On a day that highlights the significance of wetlands across the world, we are asking everyone to think about one of the most important wetlands in the UK and help us.  This is a golden opportunity to secure Hickling Broad for the future so that its wildlife is protected and that its natural resources, from which many people benefit, are used wisely and sustainably.”

World Wetlands Day raises awareness of how essential wetlands are in providing valuable wildlife habitats but also how they support people.  Norfolk Wildlife Trust Ambassador and evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod said “we cannot underestimate the importance of our wetlands - they are a vital part of ensuring we have a healthy natural environment, protecting and improving water quality and working as a sponge to store floodwaters.”  He continued. “Hickling is one such wetland that is also internationally renowned for its rich biodiversity.  Nowhere else in the UK can you see the powerful Norfolk hawker dragonflies darting over the water, marsh harriers floating overhead or common cranes dancing at dawn, as well as kingfishers, Cetti’s warblers and otters. It is absolutely essential that it is protected for wildlife into the future.  We must not let all our conservation efforts be undone or let endangered species lose their homes.”

More than 1,400 acres of reedbed, fen, grazing marsh, open water and woodland make up the Hickling Broad National Nature. Its wetland habitats, sensitively restored by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, offer a year-round haven for threatened wildlife such as iconic swallowtail butterflies, marsh harriers, Norfolk hawker dragonflies, the common crane and of course, the bittern.  

The appeal to protect Hickling Broad is running alongside neighbouring Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s campaign in the Suffolk Broads.  Brendan Joyce said, “As we raise funds to protect Hickling Broad, a nature reserve since 1945, Suffolk Wildlife Trust also has a £1million appeal to extend Carlton & Oulton Marshes nature reserve near Lowestoft.  It is good to work side by side.  Together we are ensuring the future of existing nature reserves and creating new opportunities for wildlife within the Broads National Park.  These are essential and complimentary projects. “

To donate to the Hickling Broad land purchase appeal you can donate by visiting our website at: www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/support-us/hickling-broad-land-purchase-appeal  or on our Just Giving page:  www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/norfolkwildlifetrust/hickling or telephone: 01603 625540

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