October on our reserves

Blog post by NWT on 01 Nov, 2023
Recent reserve closures: A silver lining  


You may have read about the temporary closure of some of our reserves recently, following the large amount of rain and wind we’ve had. But whilst the recent downpours have made some of our Broadland reserves impassable to the public, scuppering birding opportunities, flooding the access roads into our reserve at Hickling and losing us income, it’s not all bad news. Our sites can often benefit from the extra rain. Rainfall help to recharge our aquifers – which means filling the ground underneath our sites with fresh water helping to slowly release water into our dyke systems and keeping our fens healthy.   


During high rainfall events, excess water can run off arable fields and find its way into our water courses. This can introduce new sediment, nutrients and debris, which could affect water quality in our already suffering rivers. However, a well charged aquifer and high flow rates in our rivers can also help prevent saltwater coming up the system from the coast, protecting our freshwater wildlife habitat.   


High water levels at Ranworth

High water levels at Ranworth

And what’s more, our flooded sites are playing a valuable role taking on excess water that could find itself within our communities in places that disrupt our daily lives. Wetland creation as a course of action for flood mitigation is a real opportunity for both people and wildlife, especially in urban areas. Where we’ve drained and channelled wetlands and covered them with roads, houses and concrete, we’ve removed the natural water storage they provide.  


As we head into the winter, it’s worth remembering that sites such as NWT Ranworth Broad and Marshes are not just great for wildlife, or wildlife watching – they’re an asset to the community, acting as a valuable sponge in risky times of rising water.  


New tree nursery established at Foxley

Our brand-new tree nursery is now in situ at Foxley Wood, thanks to some hard work and thorough research from our Woodlands Team. They’ve been busy collecting seed from Ashwellthorpe, Foxley and Marsham Heath, to from which we will grow a stock of trees that we can use across our sites. This will be especially important for the enclave at Foxley, a new section of previously arable land that we’re working to restore.

NWT Woodland Assistant, Lydia Kittle said: “Starting off the tree nursery has been a complex business, due to the individual needs of different seeds. Small leaved lime seed for example needs to be kept warm for 16-20 weeks, and then the same amount of time cold. In my woodland surveys this is a species we rarely see, but it’s a key ancient woodland indicator and we’re looking forward to seeing more of them back in our treescapes.


“Having seed that we’ve collected and is of local provenance also helps to prevent the spread of disease, and ensures we’re raising species that will not only survive, but thrive and eventually reproduce here in Norfolk.”


The tree nursery was funded by the Trees Outside Woodland programme, led by The Tree Council in partnership with Defra, Natural England and five local authorities including Norfolk County Council. The aim of the programme is to increase tree cover in non-woodland areas so that more, healthier trees can be planted in future, to increase access to nature within communities, improve people’s health and wellbeing, and help mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Header image - Ben Porter

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