An area of woodland in Great Cornard was finally given local nature reserve status this week after 13 years of negotiations.
Shawlands Wood, which runs alongside Shawlands Avenue and covers around seven acres, was given the status on Monday after Great Cornard parish councillors voted in favour of the move.
George Millins, who has volunteered with a handful of others to conserve and maintain the wood for several years, said: “I am absolutely delighted.
“It has got an exceptional population, meaning 20 or more adults found in one sitting, of viviparous lizards.”
Mr Millins said other wildlife found at the site included slowworms, long-winged conehead bush crickets, common blue butterflies, bullfinches, three types of orchid and ploughman’s spikenard.
“Local nature reserve status means the parish council is responsible for maintaining it and one hopes it will preserve the biodiversity there,” he added.
The land was bought by the parish Council in 1998.
Chairman Mick Cornish said: “In 2000, we decided we wanted to obtain something with some form of conservation status. This was originally going to have been designated as a county wildlife site.”
Following a number of wildlife surveys of the area, Suffolk County Council recommended the area be put forward for local nature reserve status.
Changes involving English Nature becoming Natural England slowed the process of obtaining legal agreements.
Councillor Mark Newman said: “I’d encourage people to go there as when the light shines through the trees it is absolutely beautiful.”
The wood was named after Jack Shaw, former clerk to Melford Rural District Council.