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Sussex Wildlife Trust has received a grant of over half a million pounds from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its Discover Rye Harbour project which will transform the way visitors engage with the natural and cultural heritage of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant of £588,100 over 39 months will coincide with the nature reserve celebrating its 50th anniversary and will include an exciting and innovative programme of activities, education, training and conservation projects.

The 1,110 acre reserve is one of the most biodiverse places in Britain with 4,200 plant and animal species recorded, and over 200 rare or endangered birds and mammals. It also hosts a range of historic buildings.

As well as engaging more annual visitors in this exceptional natural and human heritage area through exciting interpretation, the project will attract new visitors to visit the nature reserve. Supported by an extensive volunteer development programme, it will also boost the reserve’s conservation capabilities, improving habitats for endangered species and securing a more sustainable future for the reserve.

The Discovery Centre, which is currently under construction, will be Sussex Wildlife Trust’s first visitor centre and has been generously supported by The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, the local community and a range of funders.

Tor Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust said,

‘We are delighted to win this substantial grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will enhance everyone’s experience when they visit our new Discovery Centre.

‘We are thrilled that so many people will benefit from knowing more about the important wildlife to be found at the nature reserve. Thank you to National Lottery players for their support and we hope they will visit when the Centre opens in 2020.’

Stuart Hobley, Area Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Rye Harbour is full of fantastic heritage, from a Grade I Listed castle to hundreds of rare and endangered species. This project will enable more people than ever to discover that heritage, as well as securing a bright future for the reserve.

“This comes at an especially exciting time as the nature reserve gets ready to mark its 50th anniversary and the opening of its Discovery Centre. We’re also celebrating 25 years of the National Lottery which has seen £7.9 billion raised for the UK’s heritage, I’m delighted that Rye Harbour is part of that incredible funding story.”

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