Saturday, January 23, 2021

National Trust to create new Lincolnshire coastal nature reserve

The Lincolnshire coast will have more to offer visitors than ever before, thanks to an exciting project by the National Trust, which aims to protect wildlife and create an all-year-round experience.

The conservation charity has bought a £800,000 2km stretch of land along the Lincolnshire coastline thanks to a generous donation from a supporter, who especially asked for the money to be invested in Lincolnshire, along with funds from the Neptune Coastline Campaign, the National Trust’s longest running appeal to support coastline projects.

The National Trust plans to create a new 30 hectare nature reserve from the former Sandilands golf course providing homes for a variety of wildlife, especially uncommon migratory birds such as black-tailed godwit, spotted redshank and spoonbill along with breeding birds like snipe, lapwing and oystercatcher.

It is the first coastal acquisition the National Trust has made in Lincolnshire, and the first since the conservation charity purchased 1.35km of the White Cliffs of Dover back in 2012. Sandilands forms a vital part of the charity’s increased commitment to protecting nature and tackling climate change, which they announced at the beginning of this their 125th anniversary year.

The project is designed to complement the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park, a 3,500 hectare area of coastline extending from Chapel Point in the south to Sandilands in the north, with coastal habitats including sandy beaches, sand dunes and a series of grazing marshes and reedbeds that are important for wildlife.

The vision for the new reserve is to provide a space where everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature. In summer, visitors will be able to enjoy the colours of yellow flag iris and purple loosestrife while hearing the calls of squadrons of avocet; and, in winter, people will be able to admire the grace of a whooper swans’ flight as they arrive from their summer breeding grounds in the sub-arctic.

To bring the vison to life, the National Trust is working in partnership with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council and East Lindsey District Council.

Kirsty James, General Manager for the National Trust in South Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire, said: “My team and I are honoured to be entrusted with the National Trust’s newest addition of coastline at Sandilands, which falls within the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park. It’s going to take some time before we can get work started on the reserve, whilst we adhere to the current Government guidelines.

“When we move away from social distancing and are able to get the reserve up and running, we intend to connect with our local communities to ensure that the indoor and outdoor space that we have to offer supports them fully, along with our existing members.”

Louise Ransberry, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust in the East Midlands, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have this opportunity as the Lincolnshire coast is one of the most important stretches of English coastline for wildlife, especially as it’s on the east coast ‘flyway’ migration route for birds. Working with local partners, our plan is to create an amazing place for people to immerse themselves in nature and really connect with the wonders that the Lincolnshire coast has to offer from Humber to the Wash.

“While we have an overall vision, we’re also keen to work closely with the local community to shape the details so we can create a space that everyone can be proud of. We all need nature now more than ever, and this new nature reserve at Sandilands will play an important part in helping to reverse the decline in wildlife. In these difficult times, we are fortunate that we were able to honour this specific donation and finalise our purchase of Sandilands, and we look forward to getting stuck in to creating a beautiful place for our supporters to visit at the appropriate time.”

Paul Learoyd, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted the National Trust is making this commitment to the Lincolnshire coast. By restoring and protecting this section between Chapel St Leonard’s and Sutton on Sea there will be an easily accessible nature rich experience along this important stretch of coastline as part of the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park. The range of coastal habitats includes wide sandy beaches, sand dunes, dune scrub, reedbeds and freshwater grazing marshes. This provides habitat and migration stop-off points for large numbers of wading birds, terns and gulls, winter visitors such as thrushes and in the summer, breeding warblers and marsh harriers.”

Cllr Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economy and Place at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We’ve been working hard to turn our beautiful coast into a year-round visitor destination, and projects like the North Sea Observatory and Gibraltar Point Visitor Centre have already helped extend the traditional tourist season. This new reserve will build on that momentum, preserving our precious wildlife for future generations while also encouraging people to get out and explore the natural world. This marks the beginning of a fantastic partnership between the National Trust and ourselves and the wider local community that will grow in strength in the years ahead.”

Cllr Craig Leyland, Leader East Lindsey District Council, said: “It is fantastic to see the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park vision being brought to life through projects like this one from the National Trust. The strategy is built on partnership working and we are pleased welcome the National Trust’s on board, their experience and expertise will be a huge asset to the Lincolnshire Coast.”

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