Gwent Wildlife Trust
SOUTH WALES, U K (South Wales Argus) - A Gwent charity is launching an urgent campaign to raise £300,000 so it can expand one of its reserves and preserve rare species.
Gwent Wildlife Trust hopes to purchase land adjacent to Magor Marsh, which has recently come up for sale.
The news comes as the charity starts to plan celebrations for the site's 50th anniversary next year.
The Monmouthshire Naturalists came together to purchase the marsh in 1963.
"They recognised it as the last fenland on the Gwent Levels and it needed to be preserved. They were a group of lay people who came together with a common interest in nature conservation and purchased Magor Marsh," said GWT chief executive Tom Clarke.
Magor Marsh, on Barecroft Common, near Caldicot, is one of the charity's flagship reserves, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering 36 hectares.
The Trust said the land up for sale is some of the best left on the Gwent Levels and unless it raises £300,000 it could be lost as a habitat.
Otters, water voles, the great silver water beetle and rare species of plants, like fat duckweed, are known to exist there.
"We are rather excited about the possibility of extending Magor Marsh," said Mr Clarke.
"If we can make it bigger it would give the wildlife a bigger area to roam."
Magor Marsh also houses an education centre, which attracts 3,000 school children per year and it is a popular tourist attraction in Gwent.
The Trust is now appealing to its members and applying to government bodies to try and get the cash in place quickly.
The land is set to be auctioned off in five lots on April 26.
"It's an enormous task so it's all hands to the pump," Mr Clarke added.
Chairman of the steering group for nearby Newport Wetlands Allan Morris called the bid "fantastic news for the whole of south Wales".
He said: "We are moving away from our industrial heritage and are now gaining a reputation for quality wildlife.
"The wetlands have been described as one of the best of its type in Europe and the more sites like this we have, the better for tourism and for our youngsters, as we're leaving the planet in a better condition. I wish them every success."
Anyone who can help can donate at www.gwentwildlife.org
Copyright 2013 South Wales Argus
Updated 410 days ago Article ID# 1541637
Gwent Wildlife Trust