Norfolk Wildlife Trust begins £1m Cley Marshes reserve appeal

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Media captionNorfolk Wildlife Trust needs to raise the £1m in 22 months

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has begun a £1m fundraising appeal so it can extend one of its nature reserves by a third.

The trust is looking to take over 143-acres (57.87 hectares) of land between Blakeney Point and Salthouse to expand its Cley Marshes reserve.

The land was put up for sale by a private owner in April and the trust has 22 months to raise money to buy it.

Chief executive Brendan Joyce said it was the biggest appeal in the trust's 86-year history.

"When this land on the north Norfolk coast suddenly came on the market, all eyes fell on Norfolk Wildlife Trust," he said.

"This land has spurred much excitement and expectation among our membership, the Norfolk public and bird watchers around the world.

"We've risen to the challenge to protect Norfolk's wildlife, but we need everyone's help to make this possible."

More jobs possible

The trust said the expansion of the reserve would help it create more reed beds, grazing marsh and freshwater.

The hope is that it will attract rare marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded tits, otters, water voles, avocets and thousands of migratory birds that use the coast areas.

The land has already been secured by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, which has given the wildlife trust the 22-month timescale to pay the money back.

A spokeswoman added the expansion could also lead to more jobs at the reserve.

Cley Marshes was Norfolk Wildlife Trust's first reserve, which it bought in 1926. More than 100,000 people visit it each year.

In March the trust acquired 95 acres (38 hectares) of rare heathland next to Roydon Common, near King's Lynn, after raising £530,000.

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