A Fakenham-based charity is “overwhelmed by the generosity of the public” after receiving £200,000 in the first few months of its fundraising appeal.
National conservation charity Hawk and Owl Trust, which bases its headquaters in Sculthorpe, near Fakenham, launched its £850,000 public appeal in May, inviting members of the public to sponsor a parcel of land to raise money for the trust.
The trust was offered an opportunity to buy up the land encircling its reserve, more than tripling the size of its protected area and preventing it from being sold on the open market.
The public appeal is part of an overall £1.7 million fundraising challenge over the next two years to secure the land and put in the infrastructure needed to expand “this jewel in the crown of nature reserves in North Norfolk”.
Communication and PR officer, Su Gough said: “We have been amazed at the generosity of the public so far in this appeal.
“It shows that those who have discovered the reserve, which seems to be a bit of a badly-kept secret, really do value the reserve and are showing this by donating to the appeal.”
The trust, which is dedicated to conserving and increasing knowledge of owls and birds of prey in the wild, visions the reserve as a “future where a rich ecosystem coexists with the local community”.
Intending to create an environment where history, rural crafts and traditional sustainable management benefits the landscape, the trust also wants to continue developing an environment that allows wildlife to thrive.
They say purchasing the reserve’s encircling land would enable active development and management for the benefit of wildlife as well as ensuring long-term access to their existing reserve.
Ms Gough added: “We still have a long way to go, but it is so heartening to see the future of this land, and the wildlife on it, coming into reach for us.”
Some of the wildlife highlights of the reserve include regular sightings of Otter and Water Vole along the River Wensum, barn owls over the fen area grazed by Highland cattle, Shetland sheep, and Tassel Stonewort, an extremely rare algal water plant.
For more information and to follow the projects progression, visit www.hawlandowl.org and www.sculthorpefen.co.uk.