Attenborough nature reserve saved
Photo: Kiya Cussans,

An appeal to save a popular Nottingham wildlife haven has reached their target of £1 million in just 10 weeks.

The Attenborough Nature Reserve has been managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for over 50 years, but was owned by Cemex, who used the site for commercial sand and gravel extraction.

But once extraction ended in 2016, the Trust entered negotiations with the site’s owners to buy the land. After their campaign to save the future of the reserve, they have now agreed a deal.

Sir David Attenborough, who officially opened the reserve in 1966, backed the Trust’s bid in order to protect the diverse ecosystem and the variety of wildlife found in the area.

He has previously described the site as “a lifeline to the natural world”, and “a symbol of hope in a challenging world”.

In December, the appeal received a grant of £750,000 from Biffa Award, which triggered a surge in donations due to confidence that the target could now be reached. Broxtowe Borough Council, a long-term supporter of the Trust, further boosted the appeal by a donation of £75,000.

The reserve provides a connection with nature for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. To date, over 4,000 personal donations have been received, ranging from a few pounds to £10,000, from as far afield as The Isles of Scilly and Shetland.

“we continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the response to our call for funds”
Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Visitor, Mick Smedley,  said the wildlife in the area is his favourite part of coming to the reserve.

He said:”We live quite a way away, but we just love coming here for the diversity of wildlife. It’s wonderful, it’s relaxing.”

He also added that the possibility of the land being sold off had been worrying.

“I think it would have affected a lot of people’s health and wellbeing.”

Two other visitors, Sandy and Elaine Frew, live eight miles away, but still enjoy coming to the area.

“We were hoping that somebody wouldn’t come along and build houses,” Sandy said.

“Just the accessibility of it, it’s easy to get to and easy to walk.” Elaine continued.

Brenda Morrison, who works in the cafe on the site, said she was “absolutely horrified” when she first heard the reserve might be sold.

“It’s a fabulous reserve, you don’t have to pay. I’m glad we bought it back.”

Brenda Morrison
Brenda Morrison, who works in the cafe at the nature reserve
Photo: Kiya Cussans

Paul Wilkinson, chief executive of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the response to our call for funds to acquire and look after Attenborough Nature Reserve.”

He added: “We knew Attenborough was much loved and it is clear from the messages linked to many donations that the reserve has a special place in people’s hearts, and I’d like to thank everyone who has donated from the bottom of mine.”

The Trust is currently working to complete the purchase of the site, but will keep the appeal open as it plans for the long term future of the reserve.

  • The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, manages dozens of nature reserves throughout the county. It advises local authorities, community groups and landowners on nature conservation issues.
  • Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust fought to save the wildlife at Attenborough in the 1960s following an application to fill them with ash from a new power station nearby.
  • In 1966 the site was designated as a Nature Reserve.
  • The Trust is part of a nation-wide network of local trusts which work to protect wildlife in town and country – The Wildlife Trusts.
  • The Wildlife Trusts now boast almost 800,000 members.