Sweet Briar Marshes © Nik Khandpur 1/3
Map showing Sweet Briar Marshes 2/3
From left to right: Liam Calvert, Lucy Galvin, Karen Paterson (Aviva) and Eliot Lyne. © Richard Osbourne 3/3

Appeal success for new Norwich nature reserve 

Wednesday 22 June, 2022

Norfolk Wildlife Trust successfully raises £600,000 in partnership with Aviva to protect rare wildlife and connect the City’s residents to nature.  

Today, Norfolk Wildlife Trust announced its success in raising £600,000 (see notes 1 and 2) to create a brand-new nature reserve for Norwich, located on Sweet Briar Marshes

Long-term supporters of NWT, Aviva generously pledged up to £300,000 in match funding, helping to complete the public appeal just four months after it was launched in February this year, making this the fastest appeal success in NWT history. 

The funds allow the conservation charity to acquire a 90-acre wildlife haven found running along the River Wensum close to the City centre, purchased on its behalf earlier this year by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The money raised will also allow NWT to begin a ‘discovery phase’ which will take place during 2022 and 2023 and include monitoring the site’s wildlife, establishing a team of staff and building community partnerships to help achieve their vision of opening the new nature reserve to the public. 

Increasingly surrounded by urban development, this vital home for wildlife was in danger of deterioration and fragmentation, and with 40 schools within two miles of the site and many local residents and community groups, it will provide a wide range of urban communities with access to nature on their doorstep. 

The site is a mosaic of fen, rough meadow, grazing marsh, old hedgerows and young woodland. It includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and is home to rare and scarce species of plant and animal, including water vole, water shrew, common toad and frog, orchids, reed bunting, willow warbler and snipe. 

Eliot Lyne, NWT CEO, said: “We are thrilled by the public’s enthusiasm for our vision for Sweet Briar Marshes. Generous donations from individuals and charitable trusts, combined with significant support from Aviva, has allowed us to complete the appeal in record time.

“We are excited to begin working with the local community to create an urban nature reserve that will give wildlife in Norwich a better chance to survive and thrive and help build a happier, healthier City that is better connected to nature. 

“Our thanks go to donors, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Aviva for sharing our vision for the future of Sweet Briar Marshes, and helping us take this incredible step towards creating a Wilder Norwich for all.” 

Aviva’s Chief Brand and Corporate Affairs Officer, Stephen Doherty, said: “This is fantastic news. We are delighted to partner with Norfolk Wildlife Trust to safeguard Sweet Briar Marshes’ future, and we’re very pleased the appeal has now hit its target, way ahead of schedule. 

“Sweet Briar Marshes has an important role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change, as well as helping to build a stronger community locally. That makes it a perfect fit for Aviva’s own sustainability ambitions, and is why we’re proud to play our part in ensuring that it is protected for future generations.” 

Local community members, who have been campaigning for many years to save the site, are delighted. 

Lucy Galvin and Liam Calvert, convenors of the Sweetbriar community campaign, said: “The local community care deeply about this magical wild place - so many people immediately got behind the campaign we set up 18 months ago when the marshes were up for sale. Now we’re utterly delighted and so grateful that it will be protected forever in the safe hands of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust - and that the community will carry on playing a major part in this.” 
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