A WILDLIFE trust has successfully secured nearly a quarter of a million pounds for improvements to the Blashford Lakes nature reserve.
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has expressed its delight at funding from Veolia Environmental Trust and generous local supporters.
Trust spokesperson Kate Sandys said: “We are so pleased that this wonderful wildlife haven will have the facelift it deserves.
“Our gratitude goes to all who have helped make this possible, and we can’t wait to start work on improving the reserve. We’re excited at the prospect of welcoming new visitors as well as familiar faces to experience Blashford’s newest facilities in the spring.”
In its bid for funding, the trust said: “Blashford Lakes near Ringwood is one of our oldest and most beautiful nature reserves. The unique mix of habitats is home to a range of wildlife, from kingfishers and otters to our famous great white egret, Walter.
“We strive to create great habitats for wildlife and maintain the site for visitors, and always want to know if there is more we can do, so recently we asked visitors to the reserve what they thought.
“Comments included a need for more information about the wildlife on site, improved access and paths, more places to sit and further information on events and activities. We’re pleased to say we have already improved the access but what about everything else? We want people to come and enjoy the wildlife we have worked so hard to protect.”
Now the plan over the next five months includes replacing the oldest bird hide, introducing another pond and building a sensory garden, providing a welcome hut and more seating, adding a new wildlife discovery trail and improved signage and building a new elevated viewpoint.
Kate said the new bird hide will be a much bigger, more flexible space, overlooking the main lake and with a green roof that is perfect for pollinators, adding: “The new hide will provide panoramic views so you can get the best look at the lake’s wonderful wildlife.”
The extra pond and sensory garden will provide vital new habitats for wildlife and more accessible pond dipping areas for visiting groups, while the new welcome hut will be manned by volunteers to greet visitors and answer questions. There will also be more seating and picnic tables.
Kate continued: “We will create a new discovery trail with beautiful willow sculptures and chainsaw carvings for visitors to enjoy. New and improved signs will guide visitors and provide more information about the reserve’s wildlife.
“The new elevated viewpoint will be beside the main car park to give panoramic views across Ibsley Water, ideal for viewing starling murmurations.
“This funding could make a huge difference to the wildlife that calls the nature reserve home, as well as the people who visit.
“We hope to expand the work in a second phase, including updating the information and facilities at the education centre and finding new ways to bring people closer to wildlife.”
Donations can be made by telephone on 01489 774400 or via www.hiwwt.org.uk/donate