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Trust launches £110,000 bid to buy farmland

Fords Heath at Arger Fen where the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to buy the land. ANL-140729-113946001

Fords Heath at Arger Fen where the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to buy the land. ANL-140729-113946001

An appeal has been launched to raise £110,000 to purchase 76 acres of countryside near a nature reserve in Assington.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust has launched the campaign to buy a chunk of rolling countryside called Ford’s Heath, located alongside Arger Fen and Spouse’s Vale nature reserves.

The money raised will add to a gift in the will of Suffolk nature lover Gerald Ford, whose family legacies have helped the trust purchase woodlands and marshes in Suffolk.

The plan is to re-establish “furzy” commons that were rife across the south of Suffolk, from Sudbury to Nayland which, over time, have all but disappeared. The largest of these south Suffolk heaths was at Leavenheath.

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Buying the 76 acres of farmland at Ford’s Heath is an opportunity for us to create something akin to this lost landscape.

“Most of the land is a large, sweeping arable field with poor, stoney soil. Our plan is to let nature take the lead, helped along by some light grazing to enable a grassy, common landscape to develop.”

He said during the trust’s first 50 years, its efforts had focused on saving Suffolk’s pristine habitats as nature reserves.

But he said: “Looking to the future, we will increasingly need to think more creatively to seek new opportunities for wildlife on marginal farmland like this.”

With the addition of Ford’s Heath, the nature reserve will stretch across 270 acres of ancient woodland and meadows.

And there are plans by the trust to create a new circular walk to link Ford’s Heath with the rest of the reserve.

Mr Roughton added: “We are very grateful to Mr Ford for remembering Suffolk Wildlife Trust in his will.

“This lovely patch of wildlife-filled countryside will be his legacy to Suffolk.

“He loved Suffolk, the county of both his parents. He would have been delighted to see his legacy being used to create a space for wildlife.”

 

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