The Reserve Working Group
There is an increasing awareness in conservation circles that traditional ‘business as usual’ reserve management is not enough to retain biological productivity and diversity over the longer term. In naturally functioning ecosystems, habitats and the species that live within them, are naturally subject to significant change. For example, unmanaged, meandering rivers across floodplains can quickly create whole new areas of habitat during times of flood (such as shingle bars and scoured bare earth), very quickly. This in turn creates new niches for different species to colonise and so biodiversity is enhanced. In contrast, reserves in Suffolk are not subject to these dynamic changes and year on year management approaches, such as regular cutting and grazing is not enough to replicate these natural processes. To prevent this stabilisation and consequent declining biodiversity we need to replicate these natural process through more dynamic management. To do this the SWS approach is to think strategically across reserves and develop projects that, as much as possible, reflect these periodic, dynamic disturbance events. A rolling programme of projects across a number of reserves, across the landscape will further enhance productivity, reflecting a range of habitats from newly created features to older, more established ones.
At the inaugural meeting of the Reserve Working Group we decided the reserve network would consist of the following sites:
• Carlton Marshes (SWT) • Hollesley (RSPB)
• Tinker’s, Corporation and Dingle (NE,RSPB,SWT) • Boyton (RSPB)
• Minsmere (RSPB • Stanny Farm (SFC)
• North Warren (RSPB) • Trimley Marshes (SWT)
• Hazelwood (SWT) • Cattawade Marshes (RSPB)
These will be the sites that constitute the long term strategic programme of dynamic management. A rolling programme of projects which will, under the SWS banner, provide a compelling strategic package to funders.