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Nature reserve in £285k expansion appeal

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Nature reserve in £285k expansion appeal

A NATURE reserve in the region which is home to thousands of migrating barnacle geese needs £285,000 in order to expand.

RSPB Scotland have today launched an urgent appeal to help secure Mersehead near Dumfries, which each year welcomes a quarter of the 40,000 Svalbald barnacle geese which migrate to the Solway Firth every year.
Director of RSPB Scotland Stuart Housden said: “RSPB Scotland Mersehead is an outstanding place for wildlife and now we have the opportunity to make it even bigger and better for some of Scotland’s rarest species, and the many others that make their home there.
“Throughout the year visitors to the reserve can experience the wonders of nature from the calls of skylarks in spring, and the tumbling display of breeding lapwings, to the iconic sight of the Svalbald barnacle geese arriving in huge numbers at this time of year.”
RSPB Scotland say they have the opportunity to expand the reserve by 112 hectares and provide an even bigger home for the geese over winter months.
However, they say they need to raise £285,000 by October 31 in order to secure this land neighbouring the reserve, including an area which will allow two separate parts of the reserve to be linked up.
Mr Housden said: “Since becoming an RSPB Scotland reserve in 1994 Mersehead has been transformed from intensive agricultural land to wetlands, reedbeds and salt marshes teeming with life, whilst also introducing wildlife friendly farming to ensure that the birds, mammals, amphibians and insects found there can thrive in harmony with these sympathetic farming systems.
“We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved here so far and any donations made to this appeal will help allow us to continue this transformational journey that began a generation ago.”
He added: “Please do help us realise our vision of giving nature a far bigger, better home at Mersehead.”
As well as providing more interconnected habitats for wildlif,e the incorporation of the land into the reserve will also offer opportunities for more access trails across the site.
And it is argued that there will be benefits for the management of the site, from revitalising burns and ditches to creating greater stretches of salt marsh.
More information about the appeal can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/merseheadappeal

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