Fifty more years for the RSPB at Blacktoft

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The RSPB has signed a new 50-year lease for Blacktoft Sands, securing its long-term future at the Humber-based nature reserve.

The nature conservation organisation first leased the site in 1973 from British Transport Docks Board, which later became Associated British Ports (ABP). Since then, it has been improving conditions for wildlife and inspiring local people about nature.

Over the past 40 years, the RSPB has notched up a large number of conservation successes at Blacktoft Sands.

In 1992, the first avocet for over a century nested at the reserve, marking the return of the RSPB’s emblematic bird to the Humber.

Two years later, marsh harriers, which had almost become extinct in the UK in the early 1970s, returned to nest; they are now a very familiar sight at Blacktoft with an amazing ten-plus pairs breeding on the reserve every year.

More recently, bitterns – a rare and secretive type of heron - returned to breed in 2004 at the reserve and have nested every year since.

The reserve is an important refuge for thousands of wetland birds in the winter and also home to 300 types of moth and 350 species of beetle.

Pete Short, RSPB Humber Reserves Site Manager, said: “A huge amount has been achieved at Blacktoft over the past four decades so I am delighted that we will be able to continue our work at this very special place.

“With the lease secured, we will now be concentrating on creating more homes for bitterns, developing our sustainable biofuels project, as well as planning to undertake additional conservation work at nearby Whitton Island with ABP. For wildlife to continue to thrive at Blacktoft it needs to be part of a network of nature-friendly sites, linked by green corridors, which allow species to move around freely.”

Tom Jeynes, ABP’s Sustainable Development Manager for the Humber, said: “The RSPB’s reserve at Blacktoft provides a rich habitat for an enormously diverse range of wildlife, including a number of rare waterbird species.

“ABP places huge importance on incorporating its environmental obligations with its commercial operation as a port authority; the estuary provides us with deepwater access sufficient to sustain 15% of the UK’s seaborne trade, and yet acts as an important habitat for a huge variety of migratory birds. We work with partners such as the RSPB, to ensure the ongoing success of these estuarine habitats.”

Find out more about Blacktoft Sands, visit www.rspb.org.uk/blacktoftsands