Royal visit from Princess Anne marks Suffolk Wildlife Trust 60th anniversary
- Credit: Sarah Groves
Princess Anne visited a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve near Lowestoft to mark the opening of the new visitor centre, viewpoints, trails and celebrate a milestone anniversary.
The Princess Royal visited Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve on Tuesday, May 11, and unveiled a plaque commemorating the trust's 60th anniversary.
She met some of the key funders, staff and volunteers who have turned the ambitious vision for Carlton Marshes to become the southern gateway to the Broads National Park into reality.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded a grant of £4.2million in 2018 to create the vast reserve, alongside £1million raised by donations and £1million from legacy gifts.
Another £250,000 was invested through the Growing Places Fund by New Anglia LEP, as well as contributions from Essex and Suffolk Water and Sport England.
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The funding enabled Suffolk Wildlife Trust to buy former bean fields and transform them into a vibrant mix of wetland habitats where Broadland wildlife such as otters and kingfishers can thrive.
A visitor centre with a café was built as well as a network of beautiful trails for walkers.
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Christine Luxton, CEO of the trust, said she was "delighted" to have the princess visit and added: “With the challenges of coronavirus, it wasn’t possible to open last year as planned, so we are overjoyed to be at a point now where we will soon be able to throw our doors fully open and welcome people in.
"Throughout the pandemic, Carlton Marshes has been a place where local people have been able to walk and escape into nature.
"Connecting people with nature is incredibly important to Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Few nature reserves have a town as large as Lowestoft on their doorstep, and we know from our visitors that it has been a welcome sanctuary for them over the past year.”
The new grazing marshes and reedbeds are already supporting breeding populations of nationally scarce species including lapwings, redshank, marsh harriers and water voles and with the reserve’s location on the UK’s most easterly point, thrilling birdwatchers with the rarities dropping in on migration.
The water-filled Broadland dykes, which bring life to the landscape are teeming with insect larvae, water snails and the magnificent fen raft spider as well as extraordinary insect eating plants.
With 28 species of dragonflies recorded, Carlton Marshes is the UK’s richest dragonfly site.