As lockdown eases a Monkton visitor attraction has started small steps to ‘rise from the ashes’ of the pandemic.
Monkton Nature Reserve has been closed to the public since March 2020 as the Thanet Countryside Trust trustees have wrestled with the changing circumstances and attempted to manage a precious local natural resource.
A small band of dedicated volunteers, returning staff and the trustees are now able to plan for a reopening to the public in June with a greater degree of confidence.
With no trading income for more than a year and a slump in membership from over 600 to fewer than 100, the future had been uncertain.
To add to the problems, a catastrophic water leak in February resulted in a huge and unexpected cash outlay to replace nearly 200 metres of pipework. Survival has been underpinned through the work of volunteers, coupled with substantial support from Thanet District Council through government-backed Covid-19 grant schemes.
In addition to the grant support through the recent lockdowns, two local businesses have provided much-needed financial support to help the reserve cope with the water pipework problems and aid the public reopening.
Dr Clive Nuttman, who is adviser to the Trustees at Thanet Countryside Trust, said: “RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) and Pfizer have made generous donations to the trust that will enable us to continue work to improve our visitor experience and look forward with greater confidence for the future of Monkton Nature Reserve, securing our natural resource for members and the wider community.
“The trust is building a longer-term partnership with RSP to protect biodiversity on the airfield at Manston and to meet the environmental requirements associated with the development.”
It is hoped the reserve will be able to reopen to the general public after June 21.
The 16 acre wildlife oasis off Canterbury Road, Monkton, is managed by not for profit charity the Thanet Countryside Trust.
The Reserve is in an old chalk quarry, last excavated in 1958. It was rescued from becoming a county council rubbish tip in 1985 on the condition that it became a nature reserve and study centre.
The Trust was particularly anxious to protect one of the last natural assets on Thanet because, apart, from the coastal cliffs and seashore there are very few areas of natural habitat left on the island.
It is a haven for wildlife and also has family activities, a picnic area, education programmes and hosts the Monkton Stargazers.
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Monkton Nature Reserve