Mark Smart, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water, receives Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement.
Friday 12 October – Mark Smart, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water nature reserve in the Broads, has been awarded the Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in partnership with the Marsh Christian Trust.
The award was presented by Peter Titley of the Marsh Christian Trust at WWT’s annual general meeting in Slimbridge on Friday, and was made in recognition of Mark’s work over the last 17 years, bringing together landowners, conservationists, local authorities and scientists to turn the site into one of the most important lowland wet grasslands in Europe.
Each spring and summer, Berney Marshes is home to 300 pairs of nesting wading birds, including lapwing and redshank, and more than 100,000 wildfowl return to the site each winter from their breeding grounds as far away as Siberia and Greenland.
Before joining the RSPB as a trainee reserve warden 25 years ago Mark worked as an agricultural mechanic on a number of large farming estates in Eastern England. It was during this time that he developed a love of conservation, helping to manage land for wildlife as a volunteer in Peterborough.
Mark’s agricultural background has served him well in his career with the RSPB, enabling him to bridge the divide between conservation management of wet grassland habitats for wildlife and commercial grazing operations in the Broads.
Mark Smart: “I am incredibly proud but also very surprised to have been nominated let alone to have been awarded the Marsh Award.
“I feel very lucky that I have had the opportunity to make a difference for wildlife by managing a fantastic nature reserve, at the same time as helping the farming community maintain the amazing landscapes we have in the Broads. This wouldn’t be possible without the support and efforts of lots of other people, from scientists and volunteers to landowners and farmers themselves, and I hope they will see this award as recognition of their achievement.”
Speaking at the event, WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray said: “We in the conservation world are fortunate to be surrounded by passionate and innovative people. While achieving anything in conservation requires people from across a large spectrum of society, it takes someone very special to bring about that collaboration in the first place, and then maintain momentum and motivation.
“Whether through inspiration, ingenuity or sheer hard work, we all owe a debt to the people who make things happen.
“Often they’re working so hard their names are unknown outside their immediate circle, so I’m very proud today that, thanks to the Marsh Christian Trust, WWT is able to formally recognise and reward the incredible achievements of Mark Smart at Berney Marshes in Norfolk.”
The Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement is run by the Marsh Christian Trust in association with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and recognises an individual whose sustained activities have resulted in a long term change for wetlands or their wildlife.
Volunteers from around the UK work to protect and transform wetland areas, leading to the conservation of wildlife and the creation of spaces to be enjoyed by the local people. Ranging from community wetlands to wetlands in people’s back gardens, each year this Award supports the people who have been the driving force behind these projects.
Nominations for the Award are put forward to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and judged in partnership with the MCT. See here for more information on how to nominate. www.marshchristiantrust.org/award/marsh-award-for-wetland-conservation/