Barn owls, cyclists, and visitors to Carlton and Oulton Marshes in Suffolk are set to benefit from the inspirational Love the Broads visitor giving scheme which has just celebrated its first anniversary.
Over £4,000 donated by visitors is being given to projects which will benefit wildlife and the visitor experience in the Broads.
£2,000 will fund 20 new barn owl boxes which will help to increase the barn owl population of the Broads.
£750 is being given to the Broads Bike Hire Association to improve cycle route signage in the quiet lanes of the northern Broads linking in with www.thebroadsbybike.org.uk
Waveney River Centre is giving £1,500 to Suffolk Wildlife Trust from its donations to improve access on an all-weather circular footpath around the Carlton and Oulton Marshes nature reserve.
The projects were chosen from a shortlist of 5 by an independent panel.
Love the Broads has seen a rapid increase in the number of businesses involved in the scheme over the past year with 38 businesses now signed up.
They can choose to raise funds by adding a voluntary donation of £1 on every booking, whether for a boat, accommodation or cycle hire, add a small surcharge on the purchase price of merchandise and collect money by selling Love the Broads badges.
Three of the companies – Norfolk Broads Direct, Richardson’s and Maycraft – are putting stickers on all of their cruisers and day hire boats encouraging visitors to donate by text or online.
A survey of Broads’ visitors suggested that 71% of them would be prepared to donate a small amount to help conservation.
Chris Haycock, of the Broads Bike Hire Association, said “We are delighted to receive a small grant from Love the Broads to enable us to erect cycle route signage which will help visitors who are exploring the area using the Broads by Bike booklet. The generosity of our visitors is greatly valued.”
Christine Luxton of Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: “Our grant from Love the Broads is great news for local people and visitors, enabling us to improve the popular all-weather path at Carlton Marshes nature reserve. The funding has been made possible by visitors’ donations at Waveney River Centre and we are delighted to have their support.”
Nick Barne, Chairman of the Norfolk & Suffolk Broads Charitable Trust said “With the wonderful help of our tourism businesses, the Trust is very pleased to have the opportunity to be able to provide a small grant to some excellent projects which will benefit conservation, tourism and local communities. If every visitor donated just £1, we would raise over £7m a year to help the Broads”.
Love the Broads scheme was set up by the Norfolk & Suffolk Broads Charitable Trust and the Broads Authority with the aim of raising money for projects which protect, preserve and enhance the Broads and which will have a positive impact on local communities and visitors.
The project has received money from the European Regional Development fund through the STEP project which promotes sustainable tourism in estuary parks and is also supported by a grant from the Norfolk Coast and Broads Rural Development Programme which is funded by Defra and the EU.