The Broads Land Management project worked with farmers and landowners providing advice on land management to make their marsh areas more attractive to breeding wading birds, particularly lapwing and redshank. Much of the advice was given by staff from the RSPB Berney Marshes team, and included distribution of written materials as well as on site advice on footdrains and water management.
In the end, 43 farmers and landowners received advice, covering some 4,800ha of land. As well as advice, there were regular bird monitoring visits carried out by volunteers during the winter and during the breeding season. There are visible improvements in conditions for breeding wading birds as the following extract from a project report in July 2022 details:
“One example is of a marsh (single field), which was completely dry in 2021, with no breeding waders. In June 2022, there were two pairs of Redshank, one with chicks, two pairs of Lapwing, one sitting on a nest and one with chicks and a pair of Avocets sitting on eggs, with chicks seen a few weeks later. This would not have been achieved without the advisory presence funded by the Water, Mills and Marshes project. Another site has increased its Lapwing pairs with chicks from five in June 2021, before advice and the reprofiling of footdrains took place, to 11 Lapwing pairs with chicks in June 2022. With Redshank pairs increasing from one to three with chicks.”
Read more about our work with the RSPB on the Broads Land Management project in our Autumn 2020 news post here.
RSPB and Cantley Marshes
Our work with the RSPB and British Sugar in Cantley Marshes has led to a great working partnership, with a joint article going in the farming section of the Eastern Daily Press (EDP). Read it here.
Three other Broads Land Management projects were based at other Broads locations with the same aim of improving the spaces for wildlife. One project was based at Chedgrave Common, one at Upton and one along the Southern Yare Valley.
Chedgrave Common is a 2.5ha area of land and the aim here was to reduce invasive species such as ragwort and bracken, reprofile ponds, restore reed beds and thus enhance acid grassland coverage of the common. Specialist contractors were used to control ragwort while the Fen Harvester was used to cut back bracken growth at key times. Broads Authority Rangers worked on the ponds and ponies were used for grazing, assisted by the local rabbit population. By Autumn of 2020, there was already evidence of reduced bracken stands and an increase in grasses and native wildflowers, while the ponds were holding water better and there was evidence of increased water plants. The Broads Authority rangers will continue to work with the parish council to manage the common.
Upton grazing marshes
Upton grazing marshes is owned by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the project’s aim here was to improve the dyke habitat to encourage the propagation of the endangered grass-wrack pond weed, which has very specific habitat requirements. In order to provide the right conditions, the project needed to restore 7.2km of dykes and grass-wrack pondweed translocated into them. There would be regular water quality testing and annual water vole surveys, as these animals can cause problems but are also a protected species. Following an initial water vole survey, the ditch reprofiling took place in 2018, with further works in 2019 and 2020. Plant translocations were undertaken in 2019.
A survey of the dykes in 2022 showed that the project has had a number of positive outcomes, including acquisition of equipment to undertake regular water quality testing, which is starting to provide a good understanding of specific markers in the water (including salinity), a small increase in the quantity of grass-wrack pondweed, a better understanding of how to manage the grazing marshes for wildlife and contributions to the Millenium Seed Bank.
Surveying also showed that dyke clearance did not have an adverse impact on the water vole populations in the area. Project legacy includes an area of land in better condition than in 2018, a knowledge base, and good connections with partners who will be able to help with new pondweed introductions and have ideas for how to use the area for propagation of other at risk species.
South Yare Wild Patches
The South Yare Wild Patches aimed to create an interconnected patchwork of wildlife havens across the south Yare area to enrich the environment and enhance biodiversity. The project has been run by the South Yare Wildlife Group and has been encouraging people and organisations to create and protect oases of wildlife habitat in gardens, verges, allotments and derelict land. The key targets were to create 100 wild patches while also undertaking wildlife walks, practical conservation and increasing membership of the group. While not all wild patches created have been entered on the database, the team are confident that at the height of activity they had 100 patches, and certainly the membership of the South Yare Wildlife Group has increased.
The project website has useful information and guides for encouraging nature and has linked to the wider Wild East project. They have also held a number of well attended events and talks, have developed a game and a quiz to help raise the profile of techniques to improve conditions for pollinators, and have been involved in wetland improvements. The group is better placed and more resilient going forward, not least to improved networking with key organisations and improved confidence in the impact the group can have.
Chet Valley B-Lines
Chet Valley B Lines was a similar rewilding project in partnership with Bergh Apton Conservation Trust (BACT) which came into being through our ‘Grand for a Grand Idea’ scheme (link to)
Read more about this project in our news post update from 2020 here and from 2021 below