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Patch of paradise! How town built its very own nature reserve - with a twist

PUBLISHED: 08:05 31 August 2020

Pupils from Causton Junior School working with educational charity Yes Futures and Felixstowe’s Community Nature Reserve to learn about wildlife, ecosystems, hedgehog homes and insect hotels. Picture: CAUSTON JUNIOR SCHOOL

Pupils from Causton Junior School working with educational charity Yes Futures and Felixstowe’s Community Nature Reserve to learn about wildlife, ecosystems, hedgehog homes and insect hotels. Picture: CAUSTON JUNIOR SCHOOL

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To see their precious and beloved wildlife declining before their very eyes was something nature lovers in Felixstowe just couldn’t allow to happen.

But these young people have now been part of an effort to restore vital wildlife levels, after the coastal town started its very own community nature reserve - albeit slightly differently to how you might imagine.

Founder Dr Adrian Cooper said the original idea for the reserve was “borne out my frustration with politicians during the 2015 general election debate”.

He added: “None of them even mentioned the catastrophic decline in bee and other wildlife populations.

“Clearly, action on a local grassroots level was needed.”

So after the vote, he spent months talking and listening to people while gathering a small band of volunteers.

He said it soon became clear that: “Most people understood that wildlife populations in Felixstowe were falling, and they wanted to help, but they simply didn’t know how.

“It also became clear that getting hold of a single plot of land for any kind of nature reserve project in the Felixstowe area would take too long, and would be too complicated.”

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As a result, he redefined what a nature reserve could be - saying: “Instead of it being one area of land, I suggested to local people that each of them only had to allocate 3sq yds of their gardens and/or allotments for wildlife-friendly plants, ponds and insect lodges.”

The result has been transformative, with more than 1,600 people including children taking part.

More than 5,000sq yds of space is being looked after, roughly equivalent to the size of a football pitch.

Among the most favoured choices in people’s patches are pollinator-friendly plants, such buddleia, honeysuckle and lavender.

Other popular features of the wildlife-friendly gardens include ponds, hedgehog homes, insect lodges and bird feeders.

A big effort has been made to encourage young naturalists, since they are the next generation of community-based conservationists.

Other areas have been so encouraged by Felixstowe’s efforts that they are trying similar things themselves.

Transition Woodbridge has started a distributed orchard, The Brightlingsea Nature Network gets involved in the analysis of their coastal wildlife and Ipswich Community Nature Reserve places an emphasis on allotments.

Even people in Portugal have said Ola to their Suffolk counterparts and thanked them for the inspiration to try something new.

To learn more about Felixstowe Community Nature Reserve, visit the project’s Facebook page.


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