Carlton Marshes (17th May 2017)

Sally Wooldridge of Suffolk Wildlife Trust spoke in place of Carlton Marshes Warden Matt Gooch, who was unable to speak as planned. Sally has worked for Suffolk Wildlife trust for four years, starting as a volunteer. She is now the membership Development Officer, and gives talks on behalf of the Trust.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts nationally in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1961, it boasts 53 reserves of which Carlton Marshes will be the largest when the current land purchase appeal is completed.

Between 2006 and 2016, Carlton Marches has grown considerably, with the expansion of Oulton Marshes in 2009 supported by a successful appeal to raise the £100,000 needed. The Trust is reliant on the goodwill of an army or volunteers. 1300 volunteers give their time to the Trust, of which 95 are at Carlton Marshes. The whole Trust employs only 60 staff, so the volunteers are a vital resource, as is the support of members of the Trust.

The current appeal aims to raise £1m, matched by £1m from a Legacy in the Will of Jean Hanniford, and a planned £1.2 million from Heritage Lottery funds. The total of £3.2 million will secure the purchase of 384 acres of land, increasing the current acreage of the reserve from 627 to 1011.

Once the land is bought, plans for development of the reserve aim to increase the public access very significantly, supporting the increased visitor numbers with a new and much enlarged visitor centre, a cafe, a shop, toilet facilities available all day, and improved access on the Reserve with hard paths and walkways, so that new viewing points and hides can be reached by all, whether on foot or mobility aid.

Carlton Marshes is already an extraordinary place. 190 separate species of birds have been observed on the Scrapes. After the current planned expansion, more reed beds and wetland will created, There are current projects in schools and other places to grow reeds so the new reed beds can be developed quickly. Sally would love to see cranes and bitterns breeding at Carlton Marshes.

Sally rounded off by underlining how Carlton Marshes is held very dear to many people. This was illustrated by fascinating historical anecdotes from some of the more senior members of the audience, who had spent many happy hours of their childhood at Carlton marshes.

Please visit http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/carltonmarshes to learn more about the marshes, watch Matt Gooch talk to Anglia TV’s Tanya Mercer about Carlton Marshes, and hit the “Donate button” on the top right of the menu bar to go to the appeal page, and see truly amazing drone video footage of the marshes showing just what a beautiful place it is.