Residents fund new Beane Marsh nature reserve in Hertford

PUBLISHED: 12:48 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:12 03 September 2020

Beane Marsh, a piece of land next to the River Beane in Hertford, has been bought by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Picture: Jenny Rawson

Beane Marsh, a piece of land next to the River Beane in Hertford, has been bought by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Picture: Jenny Rawson

Jenny Rawson

A community group has raised more than £100,000 to create a new nature reserve with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

Beane Marsh, a piece of land next to the River Beane in Hertford, has been bought by trust after a community fundraising drive to save the site.

The new nature reserve, a short distance from Hertford North Station, was put up for sale in 2019.

The fundraising effort that followed raised more than £100,000 to protect the site for wildlife.

This funding, coupled with additional money from Hertford Town Council, enabled HMWT to purchase the land and protect it for future generations.

The five-acre site lies next to the River Beane, one of Hertfordshire’s rare chalk streams, and is home to a variety of wildlife including rare marshy plants as well as butterflies and dragonflies.

The River Beane is known to be home to endangered water voles, too.

Dr Tom Day, HMWT’s head of living landscapes, said: “I am delighted, not only that we managed to help save this fantastic place, but also about the level of engagement shown by the local community.

“The people of Hertford are clearly passionate about wildlife and we are honoured to be chosen to look after this amazing new nature reserve.

“Beane Marsh needs specialist management and we’re looking forward to getting started to tap the full potential of this site for wildlife.”

The floodplain grassland of Beane Marsh sits within the Beane Valley and provides a valuable habitat as well as a crucial connection by river to other nature reserves such as Waterford Heath to the north and King’s Meads to the south.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust will now start work on a management plan to care for the site so that the wildlife there can flourish.

As a wetland site, public access will be limited but the trust will work with the local community to plan how the site can best be enjoyed by people.

John Howson, of the Save Beane Marshes community group, said: “A wonderful community effort made it possible for us to raise the money for the purchase of this amazing piece of land, a task that seemed nearly impossible when we started.

“It is one of Hertford’s most visible and iconic pieces of countryside, lying as it does a short walk from Hertford North railway station.

“We must pay tribute to those people whose amazing generosity has made this happen.

“We are so delighted to have been able to see this through to completion.”

Councillor Peter Ruffles, chairman of the finance, policy and administration committee at Hertford Town Council, added: “The project not only protects the valuable wildlife habitat for future generations but is another example of the wonderful community spirit of Hertford residents.

“The town council was delighted to be able to support this project through awarding a grant of £30,000 from its New Homes Bonus grant fund.”

The protection of Beane Marsh comes at an important time for wildlife in Hertfordshire.

The trust’s recent Hertfordshire State of Nature report shows that 47 per cent of species associated with wetlands and rivers have declined in the last 50 years.

This decline has largely been caused by loss of floodplains, over-abstraction of groundwater and climate change.

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