A benefactor had offered the 12-acre site Foxearth (pictured) to A Rocha UK at a special rate of £45,000. Such an altruistic gesture seemed to open the floodgates, as many responded to an online prospectus and magazine appeal in November.
When donations poured in for the initial appeal, A Rocha UK’s former CEO Mairi Johnstone said it was one of the best campaigns ever. ‘We’re genuinely humbled by the response – especially against a backdrop of a challenging financial climate,’ she said at the time.
That was closely followed at Christmas by matched funding campaign The Big Give, producing a further £20,000 to pay for a part-time ranger. Now the purchase has been made of this haven for dragonflies and damselflies.
The land lies about one mile to the north of the village of Foxearth and about five miles north-west of Sudbury, on the borders of north Essex and Suffolk. ‘Securing this site has been a fantastic opportunity for the organisation and for the region’s wildlife,’ said Conservation Director Andy Lester.
‘With climate change becoming a clear and present danger for UK species, protecting such a valuable asset as Foxearth will help ensure our dragonflies and damselflies have a real fighting chance. This will be a great resource for the local community too, where children and adults alike can come and learn about the complex lives of these magnificent creatures.’
The generosity of A Rocha UK supporters means a new journey of discovery can begin. ‘We’re certain to find new plants, insects and birds that have not yet been recorded on the site,’ said Andy. ‘Already there have been sightings of 19 species of dragonfly and damselfly and more than 50 species of birds. What could we find this year?’
The next step will be to form a steering group with local people. Then a full survey will be made of the site, leading to a proposal for the management plan. Finally, a ranger will be recruited and given the task of setting up the nature reserve.
‘New paths will be created, reed beds and scrub will be managed, a recording programme will be put in place and the gates will be opened,’ Andy pointed out, ‘so visitors from far and near can come and experience the peace of Foxearth.’