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Sustainable Development Fund

Case Study: RSPB Stour Wood

RSPB Stour Estuary reserve

Photo credit: Rick Vonk, RSPB

The Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape is funded by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and local authorities to deliver the purposes of the National Landscape designation.

The Sustainable Development Fund is available to a variety of local community and conservation organisations or individuals to support projects for the conservation and enhancement of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape.

In 2020, RSPB Stour Wood was awarded a £1,061 Sustainable Development Fund Recovery Grant to fund a project to improve accessibility and visitor experience, as well as promoting sustainable tourism, by replacing old, damaged gates which had been significantly vandalised and waymarks that were missing.

Stour Wood lies within the new additional area of Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, on the Essex side of the Stour Estuary. Public transport links make it an accessible outdoor space for the towns of Harwich, Colchester, and Ipswich.

Using the Sustainable Development Fund award, two gates were installed in December 2020 as part of the project, and these have made it much easier for woodland contractors, volunteers, and staff to access the woods to complete the winter’s habitat management and important conservation work.

Additionally, new signage was installed in the car park and around the woodland trails, greatly enhancing the aesthetic as well as the visitor experience at the reserve – making it easier for visitors to find their way around the woods and assisting patrol volunteers when signposting people in the right direction.

This was important as the new signage will help keep visitors to the permissive paths and public footpaths and reduce disturbance to important protected species found in the woods, such as dormice and ground nesting birds.

The wood used for posts to install signage was sweet chestnut, which was cut from Stour Wood as part of their ongoing coppicing programme.

Assistant Warden, Clare Westley, explains more about project: "During lockdown, RSPB Stour Wood has seen an increased number of visitors to the reserve.

The Sustainable Development Fund has allowed us to purchase new wooden signage which looks great and will help people to find their way around the woods. It also forms part of our on-going project to increase signage and accessibility to the woods.

The new gates have provided easier access for our contractors and volunteers to complete our winter habitat management work, which will help conserve and enhance the wildlife at this special site".

Find out more and apply for a grant from the Sustainable Development Fund.