A two year project celebrating Norfolk’s commons and their wildlife and heritage has begun, run by Norfolk Wildlife Trust in partnership with Norfolk County Council and University of East Anglia. It will empower local people to connect with their common land, and ultimately may lead to the creation of new commons in Norfolk.
Wildlife in Common
has been made possible by National Lottery players thanks to £58,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with additional support of £7,750 from Essex & Suffolk Water Branch Out fund.
NWT will enlist volunteers to help collect wildlife records on commons, allowing it to truly evaluate the importance of these places for wildlife. Through the project, help will be on hand for communities taking practical action to protect and conserve commons, whilst events involving schools, artists and museums will raise the profile of common land across Norfolk.
A major element of this National Lottery funded project will be to support communities in researching the history of their common. This will involve collaboration with the University of Anglia and the Norfolk Record Office at Norfolk County Council.
NWT will also explore the potential to create new commons for the future, including establishing new common rights, perhaps in the form of community orchards or coppice woodlands, allowing residents to have a real stake in the land. These would be informal open spaces with wildlife habitats, used for walking and enjoying wildlife. This is a bold step and an innovative approach to public open space that has not yet been explored in Britain.
Conservation officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Helen Baczkowska said: “Common land in Norfolk is often a place where people walk, enjoy encounters with wildlife and seek solace or solitude. Over spring and summer, Wildlife in Common will work with volunteer surveyors to collect wildlife records on commons. Volunteers will be offered training and support through the project and will no doubt discover a wealth of wildlife on Norfolk commons, from widespread species such as meadow buttercup and blackbirds, to specialised species from butterflies to bees.”
There are more than 300 commons in Norfolk, ranging from tiny fragments to several hectares, such as NWT’s nature reserve at New Buckenham Common, where the wealth of wildlife includes meadow saxifrage, green winged orchids and great crested newts.
NWT is keen to hear from individuals or community groups in Norfolk who have a particular interest in the history or wildlife of their local common. You can contact the project at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are celebrating the wildlife of commons in a monthly editorial series written by NWT's Barry Madden. The first pubished this month, celebrating the turtle dove