Charity marks first year in charge of nature reserve

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IMPROVING access for wheelchair users at Pagham Harbour is among the beauty spot’s manager’s top priorities for the next year.

The RSPB, which now runs the nature reserve, has spent 12 months hard at work introducing itself to those who visit the harbour.

And it is delighted with its success on having reached the first anniversary from when it took on the daily control of the nature reserve from the county council.

Adrian Thomas, the charity’s project manager who oversees the reserve team, said: “This has been very much a year of settling in, finding our feet and ensuring that the team transferred smoothly.

“I’m pleased to say it has gone very well. We were delighted with the public’s response to our draft management plan, which is being signed off by Natural England, and sets our course for the next five years and beyond.”

The harbour’s visitor centre at Sidlesham is undergoing its first facelift under the charity’s control.

This will improve the working area for the staff and volunteers and freshen up the visitors’ area.

The RSPB will follow this by exploring ways they can sensitively improve matters at the harbour – with its strict environmental controls – for wildlife and visitors.

This will include better access for wheelchair
users.

“Our approach is very much to take things step-by-step other than rush into anything.

“Our primary task has always been to ensure that is ‘business as usual’ for everyone concerned,” 
said Adrian.

One aspect the RSPB has been eager to achieve is to ensure there is a good working relationship with the Friends of Pagham Harbour.

The two charities are in regular contact. The Friends have funded an array of essential education equipment for the school groups which visit the harbour.

Part of this work has seen a Pagham Harbour Community Forum set up.

This acts as a surgery for people to come and share problems about the harbour.

The next forum is from 6.30pm-8.30pm on July 15 at Pagham United Reformed Church on Pagham Road.

The RSPB has also recruited a team of volunteers as trail guides to help visitors access what is a very big site.

Looking after the harbour’s rare wildlife remains central to the charity’s work.

For more on the harbour, dubbed ‘an unspoilt haven of big skies, coastal marshes and sea’, log on to www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/p/paghamharbour/