Norfolk Wildlife Trust – a local hero

 Sheep grazing on the Breckland at Thompson, 

Sheep grazing on the Breckland at Thompson, 

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust is the oldest wildlife trust in England but it is an organisation that is forever adapting to meet the demands that are thrown at it. There is no ‘resting on its laurels’ for this non-profit organisation. 

Over the past 90 years, the NWT has been at the forefront of protecting England’s rich wildlife heritage, both for the sake of the wildlife, but also for the sake of the generations that would otherwise grow up thinking that a blackberry was merely a phone.

At Dodd and Co, we are delighted to have worked with the NWT on a number of projects, all helping to maintain and protect the Norfolk countryside and wildlife. Here are a few of the many projects that the NWT undertakes.

Conservation grazing

Management using grazing animals is vital for the maintenance and improvement of the habitats on many of the NWT reserves. The organisation owns its own sheep and ponies, whose grazing behaviours allow native plants to thrive on open habitats and conservation areas. For the first time, the NWT has acquired 15 British White cattle at Upton Fen. The cattle are ideally suited to this wetland environment. At Thompson, Longhorn Cattle have been used to improve the grazing of the area surrounding the ancient Pingos.

Coast and Broads

At Holme Dunes the NWT has worked with Dodd and Co to fence key areas to enable essential grazing on the reserve. With landfill community funds provided by the SITA Trust, the NWT are working on these fragile dunes to improve the environment for the Natterjack Toad. There are now areas of bare ground, dune slack pools and grassland habitats – all essential for the Natterjack Toad’s survival.

There is also a major restoration project – the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund – that has just reached completion at Hickling Broad. As soon as the water levels were raised, as a result of the project, avocets, bitterns, common cranes and white tailed eagles were among the birds that returned.

Woodland

Ash dieback has had a major impact upon our woodlands, so the NWT has been layering different species - native trees such as the hazel and field maple. In Foxley Wood, there has been a major replanting project, creating a diverse woodland of species such as hazel, dogwood and spindle, in place of the conifers that were there.

Breckland

Nine sites in the Brecks are managed by NWT, including Cranwich Camp, New Buckenham Common – where a record count of 2,300 green-winged orchids were present – and East Wretham Heath, where rabbits are being encouraged to graze the area to rid it of the invasive plant pygmyweed.

The work of the NWT is so important. Not only is the organisation preserving what is here, but it is encouraging the return of some of the native species that have all but disappeared. Through workshops, events, school visits, talks and a hard-working core of volunteers, the NWT is not only doing conservation, but it is encouraging a deeper understanding of conservation among the local communities.