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Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature Reserve

30 May 2023

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Landguard Nature Reserve was designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 1973 and this year celebrates its 50th year!

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveCovering approximately 35 hectares, the Nature Reserve’s mosaic of habitats, comprising acid grassland, vegetated shingle, freshwater ponds and scrub offer opportunities for a great many invertebrates including bees, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. The varied landscape is ideal for reptiles and amphibians such as Common lizard, Slow worm, Grass snake, Smooth newt and Common frog and supports mammals including European rabbit, that play a vital role in maintaining the grassland, Field vole, Wood mouse, European hedgehog and Red fox and an increasing number of bat species. The intertidal habitat surrounding Landguard, where the land and sea meet, plays host to star fish, crabs, barnacles, limpets, and seaweeds and offers visitors occasional sightings of marine mammals such as Common and Grey seal.

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveTo date more than 600 species of flora have been recorded across the Landguard Peninsula. Characteristic plants include Sea kale, Yellow-horned poppy, Sea sandwort, Sea pea, Sea spurge and the extremely rare Stinking Goosefoot. First recorded in 1963, this rare Schedule 8 plant is still present and is afforded special attention to help ensure its future at Landguard.

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveThe Nature Reserve is an important site for birds - migratory, nesting, and vagrant species, and detailed daily records of birds have been kept by the Landguard Bird Observatory (LBO) since 1983 ( Iconic birds of the Landguard landscape include the ground nesting Ringed plover and Common Shelduck. Other locally loved species include Wheatear, House sparrow and Starling.

Celebrating 50 years as a coastal nature reserve is a significant milestone for any protected area. Coastal nature reserves are vital for protecting and preserving the unique and diverse ecosystems that exist along our shorelines.

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveThese areas provide habitats for a wide variety of plants and animals, many of which are threatened or endangered. They also play an important role in protecting against coastal erosion and storm surges, and in providing recreational opportunities for the public.

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveAs we celebrate it’s 50-year anniversary, it is important to reflect on the successes and challenges that have been encountered. The site was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1972, in recognition of its vegetated shingle, which is a rare and fragile habitat and prior to this, in 1962 received Scheduled Monument (SM) status, forming part of the Landguard Fort and associated field works, due to the exceptional historical visible remains such as the Mine Station building, gun emplacements, searchlight buildings and tank traps.

Celebrating 50 years as a Local Nature ReserveManaging such a landscape has its challenges. The Nature Reserve welcomes approximately 150,000 visitors each year and managing the impact of visitor pressure throughout the year continues to be a priority, to ensure that the Nature Reserve thrives for another 50 fabulous years.

To honour this milestone, and raise awareness and understanding of the Nature Reserve and the many species it supports, the following is planned: Throughout the course of the year, 50 species recorded at Landguard will be highlighted and shared via the Landguard Nature Reserve - Facebook page, a citizen science biodiversity project will be launched using the iNaturalist app, to identify species and create a visual record, the Nature Reserve will enter this year’s Felixstowe Carnival and host a Wildlife Discovery Day on Sunday August 13th to celebrate and showcase the Nature Reserve.

We hope that visitors appreciate this unique environment as much as we do and will join us in celebrating and helping to safeguard it for future generations.