Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

, 05 December 2011

Author James Power

little tern / Victor Alvarez

It took the Trust 50 years to build up the area of land it manages to 3,500 acres and then in the blink of an eye, the figure jumps to something in excess of 4,500 acres, a whopping 30% increase in one go. So what's been going on? Well, this is all because the Sussex Wildlife Trust has just taken on responsibility for managing Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

from East Sussex County Council. Except of course, it didn't happen in the blink of an eye, unless your blink happens to be a tad on the slow side.

In truth, this is a very special moment for the Trust and for all of the individuals and organisations that have supported this fantastic nature reserve over the years: it feels as though Rye Harbour has found its natural home. And what an absolutely wonderful place for wildlife. Every nature conservationist is guilty of having a favourite group (for me its bees and wasps every time) and the wonderful thing about Rye is that there is something very special for just about everyone. If it's birds that take your fancy, come and see the little terns breeding; if its plants, how about least lettuce? As for wasps (!), why not come and search for the bee wolf, a voracious predator of honey bees? And so the list goes on: moths, ants, beetles, spiders, bugs, dragonflies, weevils, molluscs all have their rare and unusual representatives. There's even a species of scuttle fly named after its discoverer, the Reserve Manager Barry Yates. And no, this doesn't mean the fly is called Barry Yates, but rather Megaselia yatesi.

bee wolf / Nigel Jones

least lettuce / Rye Harbour Wildlife

And what a landscape. If you like wide open spaces, big skies and the drama of the sea, this is an inspiring place to explore. Its also at the heart of a wildlife-rich landscape and plays a key role in knitting this together. What better place is there to implement and demonstrate what is meant by a Living Landscape?

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
But the transfer of responsibility has not been achieved by the Trust in isolation and nor will the future management of the nature reserve. If you ever want to find a place that truly demonstrates the power of partnership working, then this is it. There has been an extraordinary effort by many to ensure the management of the nature reserve was disrupted as little as possible by the transfer, with the staff, East Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and the members of the nature reserve management committee all devoting considerable effort and resources to make sure that the transfer happened as smoothly as possible.

What a great way of marking the Trust's 50th birthday!

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