We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have been successful in securing initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Sculthorpe Fen Project. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, HLF has awarded development funding of £38,000 to enable the plans to be developed and a full grant of £821,700 to be applied for at a later date. The bid is for the purchase of two parcels of land surrounding our existing reserve at Sculthorpe Moor, Norfolk and development of the whole into one of the most outstanding nature reserves in the country. This National Lottery bid is part of a large £1.7million project, combined with an £850,000 public appeal.
The £850,000 public appeal was launched in May and we have just two years to raise the money to purchase the land to prevent it being put on the open market. The success of this first stage means that the preparatory work for the project can now be carried out: the public appeal has raised over £200,000 so far, but a dedicated fund-raiser can be employed who can focus on raising the rest of the money needed.
The purchase of the land is just one piece of the overall project. Developing the land into a rich wildlife habitat, managing it for wildlife and creating the infrastructure needed to allow interpretation and access to all to the land are all integral elements.
Our vision for Sculthorpe Fen is one where a rich ecosystem co-exists with the local community. Access for all is, and always has been, an essential part of what makes the reserve special. This project contains a large element of allowing everyone, no matter what their mobility and abilities, to enjoy and learn from the wildlife and countryside around them. The existing Sculthorpe Moor reserve has received 5-out-of-5 stars on Euan’s Guide, an online guide to disabled access. One reviewer said “…I have never seen anywhere that has put so much effort to enable disabled people to enjoy birds and wildlife. The walkways are fabulous…”
Sculthorpe Fen has a long and very varied history and a rich wildlife. We have maintained the Fen for the current landowners for a number of years, but the potential for wildlife will never be fulfilled whilst the area remains in use as agricultural land. Purchase of the land will allow dedicated management of the fen area, for the benefit of all wildlife, from plants and algae up to birds of prey. The Heritage Lottery Fund, and National Lottery funding, is an essential part of bringing this vision to reality, and we are immensely heartened by their support for the Sculthorpe Fen project and we look forward to developing the project with HLF alongside us.