Norfolk Wildlife Trust secures funds to buy Hickling Broad

Image caption,
The fundraising appeal to raise £1m for Hickling Broad reached its target within six months

A £1m appeal to safeguard a wildlife haven of international significance has reached its fundraising target.

The 655-acre Hickling Broad estate will pass to Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

It is home to the bittern, one of the UK's rarest birds, and was put on the open market in September 2016.

Brendon Joyce, the trust's chief executive, said: "In our hands we know it's safe. We know it will be managed well not only for wildlife but for all the people that enjoy it."

The trust paid £2.5m in total, the biggest land purchase in its 90-year history

It will own 1,400 acres at Hickling Broad, about 60% of the total area in one of the most wildlife-rich wetlands in the UK.

Image source, Evelyn Simak/Geograph
Image caption,
Hickling Broad is home to swallowtail butterflies, marsh harriers, Norfolk hawker dragonflies and the bittern
Image source, BBC/Andy Hay
Image caption,
The elusive, well camouflaged bittern is one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK

The flagship reserve's wetland habitats have already been restored by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

It offers a year-round haven for threatened wildlife such as swallowtail butterflies, marsh harriers, Norfolk hawker dragonflies and the bittern.

About £100,000 of the target was raised by the general public within the first three weeks of the appeal.

The trust has also been helped in the purchase with a £1m loan by the Garfield Weston Foundation and £500,000 from trust reserves.

Mr Joyce said: "We hadn't realised the extent to which it's seen as such a special place in the hearts and minds of so many people in Norfolk but also elsewhere.

"We had a lot of donations from outside of the county as well."

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