The Landscape

The Claylands comprise a large boulder clay plateau incised by numerous small, slow-flowing rivers and streams. This is an 'ancient' and long-settled landscape, extensively farmed since early medieval times (reflected in its irregular field patterns). The moderately fertile soils support predominantly arable farming, and while areas of woodland are limited, scattered ancient woods and more recent copses alongside ancient species-rich hedgerows with associated veteran trees and pollards give the feel of a treed landscape. Further habitat diversity is provided by floristically-rich greens and commons, old green lanes, numerous farm ponds and mosaics of wetland habitats associated with the river valleys. Post-War agricultural advances have taken their toll on the fabric of this ancient landscape that is now much diminished and fragmented.

Priority Habitats

  • Many surviving greens and commons support valuable floristically-diverse grassland swards.
  • Networks of ancient hedgerows provide important connectivity across the landscape.
  • Veteran pollards can be important habitats in their own right.

Priority Species

  • Great crested newts thrive in the numerous ponds that pepper the countryside.
  • The nationally scarce sulphur clover has its stronghold in the Claylands.
  • The farmed landscape continues to support good numbers of brown hares.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is adopting an ambitious approach to nature conservation: working in partnership with others and engaging local communities to restore and create networks of habitats at a landscape scale. The vision is to forge wildlife-rich Living Landscapes enjoyed by and benefitting all. In the Claylands Living Landscape, NWT proposes to:-
  • Ensure that the SSSIs and particularly County Wildlife Sites that support the majority of surviving priority habitat within the landscape are well managed.
  • Particularly in light of the likely impact of pathogens such as ash dieback, maintain the wooded feel of the landscape, through promoting the positive management of ancient woods, hedgerow, green lanes and veteran trees; and the planting of significantly more trees in the landscape.
  • Build on the legacy of commons, roadside nature reserves, churchyards and surviving river valley wetlands and grasslands by securing their sustained management and promoting the creation of flower-rich habitats across the countryside.
  • Promote the maintenance and restoration of the farm and village ponds that are particularly abundant across the Claylands.
  • Encourage farmers to adopt management practices that will secure the long-term future for declining farmland species such as the brown hare, barn owl and yellowhammer.
  • Reverse the fragmentation of the landscape by ensuring that conservation action is joined up and builds ecological connectivity.
  • Support partners in promoting the adoption of agricultural practices that reduce the impacts of fertiliser, agro-chemicals and soil erosion on the wider environment.
  • Support and facilitate community-led conservation groups and initiatives (e.g. Bergh Apton Conservation Trust; Chet B-Lines project), and provide more opportunities for people to actively engage in the countryside.
  • Working through schools, communities and local interest groups, raise the profile and identity of the Claylands landscape, and understanding of the issues it is facing.
  • In light of development pressures (particularly around Norwich and local market towns) work with local authorities, developers and others to mitigate potential impacts and maximise provision of good quality and biodiversity-rich green infrastructure and open space.

Latest Living Landscape News

2018-08-13 Floating digger provides next Floating digger provides next stage of fen restoration
Monday 13 August, 2018
A 14-ton excavator has been ‘floating’ on a Norfolk fen this month to create a network of ponds, which wi...
2018-06-27 Summer Spirit as Cley calls to Summer Spirit as Cley calls to art and nature lovers
Wednesday 27 June, 2018
Just five weeks until our long summer weekend of wildlife and creativity at Cley! Thursday 2nd till Sunday 5th August...
2018-05-22 Wildlife in Common Wildlife in Common
Tuesday 22 May, 2018
A two year project celebrating Norfolk’s commons and their wildlife and heritage has begun,  run by Norfol...
2017-12-08 Be ‘eagle’ eyed this winter Be ‘eagle’ eyed this winter
Friday 08 December, 2017
Winter is often a very good time of year to spot birds of prey. As the trees have lost their leaves the silhouettes o...
2017-10-02 New report links volunteering New report links volunteering in nature with better mental health
Monday 02 October, 2017
A new report which examines the effects of volunteering in nature on people’s mental health is published by The...
2017-09-20 Cley Calling – Autumn Colours Cley Calling – Autumn Colours
Wednesday 20 September, 2017
This autumn, you can explore North Norfolk’s colourful coastal landscape and culture as part of NWT’s ...
2017-09-19 Celebrating two decades of rub Celebrating two decades of rubbish help for biodiversity
Tuesday 19 September, 2017
It feels counterintuitive - the waste we produce helping to restore habitats and conserve some of Norfolk’s mos...
2017-09-11 Breeding redshank return to Ro Breeding redshank return to Roydon Common after 40 years
Monday 11 September, 2017
A new noise has joined the cacophony of bubbling curlew, drumming snipe and the ‘tooo-wips’ of lapwing th...
2017-06-27 Norfolk's magical meadows Norfolk's magical meadows
Tuesday 27 June, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is leading a free meadow tour of Mulbarton Common this Saturday 1 July 2017 as part of The Wil...
2017-06-07 From Dartmoor to Breckland From Dartmoor to Breckland
Wednesday 07 June, 2017
New ponies settle in to manage Cranwich Camp, Norfolk.  Sixteen Dartmoor Ponies are settling in to their new...
2017-05-03 Cley Calling - Spring Song Cley Calling - Spring Song
Wednesday 03 May, 2017
Musicians and artists celebrate spring at the North Norfolk Coast From Thursday 4 May to Sunday 7 May, Norfolk Wi...
2017-04-18 £1 million target reached to s £1 million target reached to secure future of international wetland Hickling Broad
Tuesday 18 April, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced today that the £1 million target had been reached through donations to the...
2017-03-15 'Microsculpture' 'Microsculpture'
Wednesday 15 March, 2017
'Microsculpture' is a unique exhibition resulting from a ground breaking insects project by Levon Biss, Briti...
2017-03-07 Celebrating 'The Year of Norfo Celebrating 'The Year of Norfolk’s Nature' - photography competition
Tuesday 07 March, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust today [Wednesday 8 March 2017] announced the winner of its photographic competition celebratin...
2017-02-16 Do some 'fun raising' and Do some 'fun raising' and "Help Hickling" Broad
Thursday 16 February, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has an ambitious target of raising £1 million by 31 March 2017 to help it purchase 655 a...
2017-02-02 World Wetlands Day celebrates World Wetlands Day celebrates major public commitment to securing Norfolk’s finest wetland
Thursday 02 February, 2017
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced today on World Wetlands Day that over £500,000 has been donated so far to ...
2017-01-14 Sea Flooding at NWT Cley Marsh Sea Flooding at NWT Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Saturday 14 January, 2017
Update: 18 January 2017 Following the flooding at the weekend, reserve staff are now carrying out a clean-up and ...
2016-12-06 A strong step towards securing A strong step towards securing Hickling Broad
Tuesday 06 December, 2016
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has announced that over £128,000 has been donated so far as a result of it launching the...
2016-11-21 It's time to chat about the ba It's time to chat about the bat
Monday 21 November, 2016
Join bat expert John Goldsmith for an evening this Thursday [24 November] discovering the secret lives of these noctu...
2016-11-02 Hickling Broad - urgent appeal Hickling Broad - urgent appeal to secure future of historic Norfolk wildlife haven
Wednesday 02 November, 2016
 Norfolk Wildlife Trust today announced it is launching a £1 million appeal to secure the future of one of...
2016-05-13 Competition to name King’s Lyn Competition to name King’s Lynn Wildlife Area
Friday 13 May, 2016
Ideas are being sought from members of the public for a name to give to a publicly accessible wildlife area which is ...
2016-03-11 Taking action for county wildl Taking action for county wildlife
Friday 11 March, 2016
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has been awarded £81,600 from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HL...
2016-02-04 Towering tractors to help tiny Towering tractors to help tiny wildlife
Thursday 04 February, 2016
A huge transformation has begun using heavy machinery at two sites in the Brecks managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust. T...
2015-12-04 Winter wildlife survey to help Winter wildlife survey to help protect species in Norfolk
Friday 04 December, 2015
Norfolk Wildlife Trust launches a new wildlife spotter survey to record sightings of mistletoe, stoat and tree sparro...