Landmark extension for one of nature's 'jewels in the crown' in Lancashire

A landmark extension has been announced for one of the UK’s most important sites for water birds in Lancashire – dubbed nature’s ‘jewels in the crown’.

The Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve (NNR) has been extended by nearly a fifth to give greater protection to more than a quarter of a million migrating water birds.

Natural England has announced the additional areas will include the RSPB Marshside and RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh nature reserves, as well as land managed by the Lytham and District

Wildfowlers Association (LDWA) at Warton Marsh.

Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve is an important site for water birds

At 5,231 hectares, the NNR is the third largest reserve in England and includes habitats protected for thousands of iconic pink-footed geese that gather from Greenland and Iceland each


Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said: “The National Nature Reserves are the very jewels in the crown of our wonderful natural environment and Natural England is very proud to

declare this very significant extension to what is already one of our largest of such reserves.

“The Ribble Estuary is one of the UK’s most important areas for water birds and this extension will mean that the habitat here will be bigger, better, and more joined-up, making for a more

secure future for the iconic wildlife that relies on this internationally-important place, including the quarter of a million migrating water birds who visit and feed here.”

Mike Downey, NNR senior adviser for Natural England in Lancashire, said: “The announcement really heralds an exciting new period of management for the Ribble Estuary National

Nature Reserve (NNR).

“This declaration of a an extended and partnership-managed NNR in Lancashire means we can continue to see nature thriving across the Ribble Estuary, learn more about the wildlife

found here, and secure benefits for local people for many years to come.”

Jim Wardill, RSPB Operations Director for Northern England, said: “The fantastic news of a bigger, better and more joined up National Nature Reserve, is real testament to both the

national importance of the estuary’s birdlife, and the power of collaborations. We’re excited about what this large scale nature reserve means for both the wildlife that can thrive there, and

the local communities who will be able connect to nature and learn about the importance of conservation through the RSPB’s newly refurbished Ribble Discovery Centre from next spring.”

Andrew Cash, chairman of Lytham and District Wildfowlers Association (LDWA), said: “LDWA are proud to have been custodians for more than 35 years of 200 plus hectares on the north

bank of the Estuary, the last 25 of these within the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve.

“Working in close conjunction with Natural England and its predecessors, the area has become increasingly a haven for breeding and overwintering birds, and other fauna and flora, and a

nationally recognised model of good saltmarsh management and conservation.

“LDWA are pleased, as part of the extension of the Nature Reserve announced today, to have dedicated a further 100 plus hectares of its land, to ensure the future protection and

improvement of the Association’s landholdings under the agreed management regime for the enlarged area.”

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