One of the biggest challenges for Suffolk is how we balance the need to build houses with conserving the essentially unspoilt character of our county. Our market towns and larger villages are thriving. They’re where people want to live, raise their families, experience the tremendous benefits of a closeknit community. But they are also under enormous pressure. Housing is in short supply as the population increases and demographics change. New residential developments nibble away at the green fringes of our urban centres, rubbing up against precious, fragile wild habitats. People need decent, affordable housing, in places where they want to live, with easy access to where they find work. The benefits to health and wellbeing of living close to nature, in green spaces, are now well understood. But at no time have we better understood the need to conserve and protect the natural environment, to halt the decline of species of flora and fauna, to arrest destruction of habitat, and what that loss means for the future of the planet. It’s a huge and worrying situation for anyone to manage.
‘New residential developments nibble away at the green fringes of our urban centres, rubbing up against precious, fragile habitats’
Organisations like Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the National Trust have never been more relevant. The practical work they do, both staff and volunteers, in caring for sensitive environments, as well as lobbying governments, is vitally important.
The National Trust owns and manages some of the region’s most precious landscapes and locations from Wicken Fen and Dunwich Heath to Sutton Hoo and Orford Ness, so it’s good to hear about its plans to purchase more land, solely for the purposes of creating habitats for wildlife. According to east of England regional director Paul Forecast, the trust aims to take on an additional 1,000 hectares in the region by 2025, a 10 per cent uplift in land already managed by the organisation in the east.
Meanwhile Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s public appeal to help fund creation of a 1,000 acre Broadland nature reserve has hit its target. The whole project – purchase of 384acres of land, habitat restoration and the building of a state-of-theart visitor centre – will cost £8million. The trust received a £4 million grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, and the remainder has been raised via the public, a New Anglia LEP grant, legacy gifts and volunteer time. By 2020 a brand new eco-build visitor centre will welcome visitors from far and wide to the southern gateway of the Broads National Park. I salute their ambition.
Carlton Marshes, with newly purchased land to the bottom right and upper left