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RSPB to create million pound wildlife haven in Norfolk Broads

Last modified: 05 May 2016

View across dyke towards windmill, Berney Marshes RSPB reserve

Berney Marshes, Norfolk

Image: Chris Gomersall

Thanks to nearly £1 million funding from WREN (see note 1), the RSPB has purchased an area of land equivalent to around 100 football pitches in the Broads National Park, and has plans to transform it into a vital and vibrant new wetland home for vulnerable wildlife.


The newly purchased land sits alongside Breydon Water and Berney Marshes, both currently managed as nature reserves by the RSPB.


The new area of nature reserve will create additional high quality coastal and floodplain grazing marsh within the Broads landscape, a wildlife habitat that is crucial for vulnerable wading birds such as lapwings and redshanks. Coastal and floodplain grazing marsh is sadly lacking in the UK, and remaining areas of habitat are now under severe pressure from human activities and sea level rise. 


Over the next few years the RSPB will be turning this area of grassland into an area rich in wildlife by creating a series of carefully designed scrapes and shallow pools. These new wetland features will provide suitable breeding conditions for wading birds such as lapwings, avocets, redshanks and yellow wagtails, all of which are red- or amber-listed species of conservation concern (note 2). The new landscape will also provide new areas to help birds move between sites across the Broads and support those using the estuary in the winter.


The site will also become an important place for other wildlife in decline such as brown hares, water voles and a range of plants including divided sedge and sea barley.


In the long term, the project will help the UK to create homes for new species, on the move to the Norfolk Broads due to the changing climate, such as black-winged stilts, spoonbills and egrets.


Mark Smart, RSPB Site Manager for Berney Marshes and Breydon Water, said: “Here in the Broads, we are guardians of some very special places for wildlife. Thanks to WREN funding, this project will complement the work we are already doing alongside partners and local landowners to create a home for wildlife across the whole of the Broads. 


“Wildlife needs space to roam, and this new area of nature reserve will create a vital stepping stone for our wild residents to make a home in other parts of the Broads and provide a feeding ground for thousands of migrant birds looking to refuel after a long flight.


“Through this work we are looking forward to continuing on the area’s legacy as a crucial safe haven for some of the UK’s most vulnerable birds and wildlife.”


The conservation charity’s long term vision for the area includes designing and creating structures to provide public access to site, providing Great Yarmouth with a new nature reserve for local people and visitors to enjoy.


Peter Cox, Managing Director of WREN, added: “Through the Biodiversity Action Fund we’re supporting projects that will enhance, restore and revive some of the UK’s most precious habitats, providing a safe haven for British nature and wildlife. The RSPB is now able to extend valuable wetland habitats in the Norfolk Broads at Berney Marshes. The work will have a really positive impact for many species of wildlife as well as the local community.”

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