Even small steps can make a big difference. As Sue Lees found out when she stepped up for the wildlife of Kiln Meadow.

'It all started when I heard about Ipswich Borough Council's disgraceful 2010 plan to cover the well-loved local nature area - Kiln Meadow - with 170 new houses.Common toad, half submerged in water.  

Even though I lived outside the area affected, on finding out that the building programme would effectively take a slice of land linking several nature areas I knew I had to do something. This plan would jeopardise the wildlife value of the whole area and destroy habitat used by 6,000 toads (possibly the largest colony in England).

The local RSPB group was heavily involved in the campaign, but not the main RSPB. I know that the RSPB has done a fantastic job protecting the best wildlife sites in the country, and that its resources are limited. However, I feel very strongly that it is no good relying on keeping wildlife intact on the best sites round the country, and letting biodiversity collapse everywhere else.

Fragmented habitats

I had also just read Professor Sir John Lawton's Report 'Making Space for Nature', which came out at around this time. In his report, Sir John points out that England's wildlife sites are 'badly connected, with vital wildlife corridors such as hedgerows and rivers either lost to developers or in poor condition, and that they are not effective enough at preserving species due to ……small size.'

This point really resonated with me - not only will the biodiversity in the best sites become isolated and develop vulnerabilities as a result, but people in general will never see any local wildlife as it will disappear due to industrial agriculture and the pressure on land for development.

Controlling my nerves

So, at the 2010 RSPB AGM I plucked up the courage to ask that the RSPB write a letter in support of Kiln Meadow. My hope was that by getting their distinguished name onto the roster of supporters they would be the authoritative voice needed to influence the local councils deciding whether this development proposal would go ahead, or not.

Bugs-eye view of wet meadow in flower.I was delighted to find that the RSPB did write a letter to Ipswich Borough Council, highlighting Kiln Meadow's status as part of an ecological corridor in south west Ipswich.  

I followed this up with a letter of my own to Babergh District Council - attaching a copy of the RSPB's letter to maximise the impact of their contribution.

Safe for the future

I am overjoyed that Kiln Meadow has been saved. I really think this campaign is a fantastic example for wildlife campaigners to study and take heart from. It just shows what can be done by concerned groups striving to save our common heritage and operating with limited time and money.

The saving of this public land for biodiversity and posterity is entirely due to the brilliantly imaginative approach by the Save Kiln Meadow campaign group.

It is the David and Goliath of our age, and I'm proud to be able to say I helped in my own small way.'