Canvey Wick Nature Reserve is set to be expanded to around 150 hectares after Morrisons arranged to transfer an adjoining parcel of land to national land management charity, the Land Trust.
The retailer’s transfer of 130 hectares of land to the Land Trust – equivalent to more than 180 football pitches – together with an endowment to boost the environmental quality of the land and provide for its long-term management, will have a wide reaching impact.
Among the benefits provided by linking the adjoining land include enhanced habitat restoration and fresh education opportunities. It will also allow for links to a neighbouring RSPB reserve, connecting to other habitats in the process.
Simon Pile, Estates Manager for the Land Trust, said: “The transfer of land that will significantly increase the size of Canvey Wick Nature Reserve is tremendously exciting, helping unlock investment into the ecological diversity and provide community opportunities for the site.
“Morrisons deserves immense credit for its supportive partnership work in making this happen.”
Morrisons Senior Asset Manager, Georgina French said: “Canvey Wick Nature Reserve is a site of national significance and it is also important to the local area. We hope that through our partnership with the Land Trust, people will soon be able to explore the Reserve, observe its wildlife and learn about their natural habitats.”
Described as “a little brownfield rainforest” by Natural England officer Dr Chris Gibson, Canvey Wick Nature Reserve was once home to an oil refinery. It is now owned by the Land Trust and managed in partnership with the RSPB and Buglife.
Results of surveys have shown Canvey Wick to have “more biodiversity per square foot than any other site in the UK”. The nature reserve was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on 11 February 2005 – the first brownfield site to be protected specifically for its invertebrates.
The site currently has no formal public access. However, the Land Trust, RSPB and Buglife will ensure that local communities can safely enjoy this exemplar site whilst protecting the wildlife.