Business Strategy

Hickling Broad, photo by Richard Osbourne 1/3
Wildlife volunteers, photo by Matthew Roberts 2/3
Bittern, photo by Elizabeth Dack 3/3
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is the first and oldest of the Wildlife Trusts in the UK, established in 1926 with the acquisition of Cley Marshes on the North Norfolk coast. For more than 90 years we have been committed to the conservation of Norfolk’s wildlife: a commitment expressed in land acquisition, advocacy, education, habitat restoration and a passionate belief that the wildlife of Norfolk deserves a healthy landscape in which to thrive and that the people of Norfolk deserve the same.

We are supported by 35,500 members and have more than 100 businesses enrolled in our Investors in Wildlife scheme. We have 1,200 active volunteers and eight thriving  local members groups around the county.

We own and manage more than 50 nature reserves covering an area of 4,560 hectares and are working on a landscape-scale to rebuild fragmented ecological networks in eight project areas. We have five visitor centres and an education centre.

Our vibrant education programme brings discovery, inspiration and involvement in wildlife’s wonder to schools, colleges, local communities and families. We welcome more than 5,000 young people to our nature reserves on school and university field trips each year.

We manage the Norfolk County Wildlife Sites system, where more than 1,300 sites covering 15,000 hectares have been identified and where we work with landowners to secure the sites’ protection and management.

We have a dedicated team of 13 Trustees and  more than 70 members of staff, professionally managing one of the most successful of the Wildlife Trusts across the UK.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust seeks a sustainable Living Landscape for wildlife and people
  • Where the future of wildlife is protected and enhanced through sympathetic management
  • Where people are connected with, inspired by, value and care for Norfolk’s wildlife and wild species
This is a long term and ambitious vision which we cannot achieve alone. We need to persuade and work with other organisations, communities and individuals, but we believe it is vital to do all we can to rebuild our fragmented ecological networks, poorly functioning ecosystem services and disconnection between people and the natural world.

Our natural capital is being eroded at an exponential rate as a result of increasing human population and consumption. Our environment is being damaged by the toxic by-products of modern human activity. Whilst our ingenuity and knowledge has enabled huge technological advances in the way we can manipulate and exploit the world around us to suit our needs and desires, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world and our intricate relationship with it. We know that we are capable of using that ingenuity and technological expertise to solve future problems, but we remain utterly dependent on the natural world and its resources for our own health and wellbeing. Best we understand it better and look after it if we want to ensure a healthier environment rich in wildlife and natural heritage.

All living things require a habitat and access to resources that provide the energy and building blocks for their survival.  Environmental ecology is a vast and complex, but relatively new, science that we are still learning about. We know that human activity has had a profound impact on, and interaction with, the partially understood intricate balances of environmental and ecosystem dynamics for many thousands of years. More recently, there is compelling evidence that our impact has become even more profound and more rapid for many reasons. Ecologists believe that a key underlying factor is a rapidly expanding human population, but there are many other factors involved. There are many global and local indicators of this impact, such as change of land vegetation and use, habitat loss, pollution, over-exploitation, but perhaps the most profound change of greatest concern to have potentially long reaching and even catastrophic effects on many living things, including humans, is climate change; more specifically, the burgeoning evidence that global average temperatures are increasing. It is thought that just a 2 to 4 degrees Celsius shift will cause major and, in many cases, detrimental, impacts to agriculture and wildlife. There has been a greater than 0.5 degree Celsius temperature increase in recent decades and the trend is upwards. The recent Paris agreement on climate change calls for “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change…”.  However, even assuming that enough action is taken to limit the warming to 2°C, adaptation will still be necessary as impacts on biodiversity and societies are already occurring.  In the light of this, precaution suggests we should be considering how to adapt, and what measures we might need to take to help wildlife adapt as well.

What has this got to do with Norfolk? To give just two examples, Norfolk is situated eco-geographically on migration routes and has enough of the right habitats to attract a variety of rare and common migrant birds. It is also home to more rare and endangered species of plants, animals and fungi than virtually any other county in England.
In 2010 the Government welcomed and published an independent and authoritative report. “Making space for nature” was commissioned to “review the integrity of wildlife sites in England and whether they were capable of responding and adapting to the growing challenges of climate change and other demands on our land”. Led by Professor Sir John Lawton the so-called Lawton Report concluded that “there is compelling evidence that England’s collection of wildlife sites are generally too small and too isolated, leading to declines in many of England’s characteristic species. With climate change, the situation is likely to get worse. This is bad news for wildlife but also bad news for us, because the damage to nature also means our natural environment is less able to provide the many services upon which we depend. We need more space for nature”.

Amongst a package of 24 recommendations it advocated:
  • That we better protect and manage our designated wildlife sites
  • That we establish new Ecological Restoration Zones
  • That we better protect our non-designated wildlife sites
It also proposed the concept of a “bigger, better, more joined up” approach to addressing our fragmented ecological network of protected sites.

This is the essence of NWT’s approach to developing and establishing a Living Landscape - a functioning ecological network - in Norfolk. This may seem an impossible task given all the constraints and other competing interests in the use of land and natural resources. So we have adopted a more pragmatic approach, itself a major challenge, based on eight Living Landscape areas, the equivalent of Lawton’s “Ecological Restoration Zones”.

This is not a departure from the core task of looking after our nature reserves. They will remain a vitally important mainstay of a 90 year old strategy that has already done so much to protect and enhance Norfolk’s wildlife. Looking forwards, we need to do more in the wider countryside, building on designated nature reserves, acquiring additional land to create and restore wildlife habitats, working with landowners, local communities, businesses and other organisations, especially through the County Wildlife Sites network, to rebuild ecological networks, wildlife corridors, links and stepping stones. Our goal is to make more space for nature to help wildlife adapt to and survive the impact of climate change and the pressures of human activity. Such a big ambition will require vision, belief, commitment, resources, determination and, above all, time. It could be 50 to 100 years before we can even begin to claim that we have turned things around, reversed the decline in wildlife and secured a better future, for wildlife and people.

This brings us to another set of objectives and challenges. Securing the future of wildlife through land ownership and management and legal protection has proven to be very effective, but insufficient. There continues to be a starkly dramatic global net loss of habitat and species and a decline in many important wildlife populations on an unprecedented scale. There has been an upsurge in popularity of contact with wildlife and wild places as evidenced by how people travel and explore. There has also been a major increase in the way people access nature via television and the internet. However, there remains a fundamental lack of understanding of how nature works and how important it is to our own wellbeing. Moreover, environmental issues are currently relegated in relation to many other issues of public and political concern. NWT has a very clear role to play in raising awareness of the wonders and also the needs of wildlife and this will become ever more important in the future if we are committed to our Vision. Wildlife is not there just to be enjoyed as a form of recreation, it has to be better understood in terms of the needs and survival of other species and how this connects to our own survival and wellbeing.  

Education has always been core to the Trust’s objectives and we have traditionally concentrated our efforts on young people, chiefly through the provision of outdoor learning programmes aimed at schools and more recently, expanding to older students, families, adults and community groups. Delivering on our Vision for Living Landscapes will require a renaissance in how people view and engage with nature, so that appreciation of wildlife is not seen as a recreational activity, but an essential interrelationship vital to the wellbeing and sustainable future of people and wildlife.
We have established a series of key strategies to guide the Trust over the next five years and these are each supported by an action plan. Beneath the action plans are a series of operational work programmes to guide the organisation’s main functions. These will be reviewed and updated annually.
  • Achieve the best possible management of nature reserves for wildlife and people
  • Help wildlife adapt to climate change by creating a living landscape for Norfolk
  • Inspire people to become involved in and take action for Norfolk’s wildlife
  • Secure profile, support and resources
  • Effective governance, leadership and support to manage the organisation’s development
The values NWT adopts should have an influence over all aspects of our operations as they define the standards we aspire to and the way we behave.

Our Charitable Objects

The objects for which the Trust is established are:
  1. to advance the conservation of wildlife and wild places in Norfolk for the public benefit
  2. to advance the education of the public in the principles and practices of sustainable development. (Sustainable development means “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”)

Our Values

  • Our conservation and land management decision making is based on sound scientific evidence, research and consultation with appropriate experts
  • We will stand up for wildlife where we believe it is threatened and seek positive outcomes for its protection and enhancement
  • We believe that a landscape scale approach to wildlife and habitat management is key to ensuring the survival of many species common and rare
  • We recognise that our members, volunteers, supporters and visitors are vital to our success and we seek to provide excellent standards of service and response to their needs
  • We will aim for highest possible standards of professionalism and efficiency in all aspects of our work
  • Where possible, we will work in partnership with other organisations in pursuit of common objectives and efficient use of resources and, in particular, to help deliver progress towards our Vision for a Living Landscape
  • We will apply an environmental and socially responsible stance to financial decisions involving investments, sponsorship and procurement of goods and services
  • As an Investor in People, we value our staff and volunteers and will employ good practice standards in all aspects of recruitment, induction, development performance management, health, safety and welfare of staff and volunteers