Tipping the Balance

Comparing water from Cockshoot and Ranworth Broads 1/3
Ranworth Broad on the left, Cockshoot Broad on the right 2/3
Pike, photo by Jack Perks 3/3
Our ambitious project in the Bure and Ant Valleys called ‘Tipping the Balance’ will enable us to 'manipulate' the underwater ecology of two of the largest Broads in Norfolk, to restore their clear water and in turn the water plants that were once commonplace across Broadland’s waterways. The project is possible thanks to £500,000 funding from Biffa Award’s Partnership Scheme.

Following lessons learned from past projects at Cockshoot and Barton Broads, we will create three zones – the size of fifteen international rugby pitches - separated from the main water body of Ranworth and Barton Broads using floating barriers. These areas will have their fish populations altered and balanced to restore clear water. Fish species involved in maintaining poor water quality will be removed from these zones and released elsewhere.

A balanced fish population is a critical component in restoring clear water. Fish that bottom feed can stir up nutrient-laden sediment, while other fish devour the algae grazing Daphnia (water fleas). Keeping these fish species at balanced levels over large areas of water – 10.7ha at Ranworth and 4.2ha at Barton – will restore lost water quality, allowing rare water plants such as holly-leaved naiad to flourish.

Watch our documentary about the project

The project will also promote the recovery of around 800 metres of emergent plants, and habitat for water voles, at the edge of Ranworth Broad. Water quality, plant regeneration and fish movements will be monitored both inside and outside these fish barriers, to assess their impact across the Broads and their associated dykes. Essex & Suffolk Water Branch Out fund has provided support for new tern rafts to help grow the tern colonies at Ranworth.

The project will be done alongside partners including the Broads Authority, Natural England, the Environment Agency and ECON Ecological Consultancy.