More than 300 people turned up to witness the launch of Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve on Saturday.
Around half this number took part in the official opening by cutting a 100-metre-long eco ribbon to what has been described as a perfect place for nature to thrive.
Visitors to the site, which borders the River Stour, included politicians, conservationists, church leaders and families.
All were united in a packed one-day programme to welcome Britain’s only nature reserve managed primarily for dragonflies.
“What a fantastic way to do a ribbon-cutting,” said Braintree parliamentary candidate James Cleverly. “Never before have I seen a community engage like this in the opening of a site for wildlife.”
Other guests included Sudbury deputy mayor Sue Ayres, Sudbury Methodist minister the Rev John Boardman and Braintree District Council’s deputy leader Wendy Schmitt, who described the 11-acre site – run by Christian nature charity A Rocha UK – as perfect.
“It’s somewhere beautiful for local residents to commune with nature,” said the council’s cabinet member for environment and place. “It’s a unique piece of landscape.”
Other organisations taking part included Essex Wildlife Trust, British Dragonfly Society, Butterfly Conservation, Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Suffolk Beekeepers’ Association and Essex Birdwatching Society.
Activities included a quiz trail, pond dipping, guided walks and wild art workshop.
“We put everything into the day and the result was everything we could’ve hoped for,” said reserve manager Mark Prina.
Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve is tucked away in the north of Foxearth parish, next to Glemsford Pits.
From Foxearth head north and follow signposts to Glemsford for about three-quarters of a mile, then turn right towards Liston. The reserve is on your left.