Norfolk schools get a taste of rare parsnips


Monday 13 July, 2020


Four Norfolk schools have helped conservationists introduce a threatened, iconic marshland flower, greater water parsnip, to areas in the Norfolk Broads. 

Children from Acle St. Edmund C of E primary, Horton C of E School, Lingwood Primary Academy and North Denes Primary school have discovered the principles and processes of re-introducing a native species, thanks to a collaboration between Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s ‘Conservation in Action’ (NWT) and the Broads Authority’s Water, Mills and Marshes: the Broads Landscape Partnership (WMM).

Greater water parsnip is an increasingly rare and threatened species, and of priority concern for conservation. One of its remaining strongholds is the grazing marshes of the Norfolk Broads and it was from dyke edges surrounding Cantley Marshes that children collected the plant’s precious seeds. 

The children discovered that the plant has declined significantly over the last fifty years and its distribution has contracted leaving isolated populations. The reason for this decline may be a combination of mechanical and intensive dyke clearance, over grazing and general habitat loss as a result of drainage.  

The children enjoyed learning about re-wilding and species re-introductions: how to collect the seeds, rear the plants in pots, locate suitable habitat to plant the ‘plugs’ and finally monitor the plants’ development and success.

Natasha Howard, from Water, Mills and Marshes who headed up the project said:
“The plan was the children would plant the young flowers along dyke edge at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve in Norwich, Thorpe Marshes. Unfortunately, no one could have anticipated the restrictions that this spring and summer would bring.

"Despite the closure of the schools, several of the teachers took plant trays home, as did the Water, Mills and Marshes education staff. In total forty-six plants were successfully ‘potted up’ and transported to Thorpe Marshes. We recently planted the water parsnip on the children’s behalf and made a short video for the children to watch.”

Director of Nature Conservation at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Kevin Hart said:
“This is a great project combining education with actual hands-on conservation. Greater water parsnip is perennial and can grow up to two metres high, so can easily be found if you know what to look for. We hope that over the next few years they will flourish and the children can visit the reserve each summer and see the contribution they made to the return of this iconic marshland flower.” 

NWT Thorpe Marshes is leased to Norfolk Wildlife Trust to protect as a nature reserve by the Crown Point Estate. Although close to Norwich city centre, and in part a former gravel pit, it is a great site for birds. It also hosts a large variety of other animals and plants including the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly and the endangered water vole. Fiona Sarson, Crown Point Estate Director said “We are thrilled with the transformation of Thorpe Marsh through the hard work of Norfolk Wildlife Trust during their tenure. The Estate is keen to increase biodiversity and encourage the public’s engagement.”

There are no parking facilities, but access can be gained via the railway line footbridge on Whitlingham lane, off Yarmouth Road.  

Share this

Top news stories

2021-08-30 New Chief Executive of Norfolk New Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust announced
Monday 30 August, 2021
The trustees of Norfolk Wildlife Trust are delighted to announce the appointment of Eliot Lyne as the new Chief Execu...
2021-08-19  Sunflowers power £2 million f  Sunflowers power £2 million for nature’s recovery
Thursday 19 August, 2021
Wildlife friendly farm, which grows wild bird seed, and 100 acres of sunflowers, celebrates raising £2 million ...
2021-07-29 Nearly quarter of a million po Nearly quarter of a million pounds for South Norfolk conservation from government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund
Thursday 29 July, 2021
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant of £244,400 for an innovative landscape-scale conservation proj...
2021-07-27 Historic reintroduction revers Historic reintroduction reverses extinction of England’s rarest frog
Tuesday 27 July, 2021
The northern pool frog, England’s rarest amphibian, has been successfully reintroduced to Thompson Common in No...
2021-07-15 Rail station wildlife gardens Rail station wildlife gardens to receive stamp of approval from NWT
Thursday 15 July, 2021
Community efforts to boost nature at rail stations are to be rewarded with an official accreditation from Norfolk Wil...
2021-07-08 Commons for the future? Commons for the future?
Thursday 08 July, 2021
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has this week published a study which considers the strengths and weaknesses of the potential ...
2021-06-25 Discover seaside soap operas d Discover seaside soap operas during National Marine Week
Friday 25 June, 2021
Staycations mean more of us are set to discover the delights of our shores and coastal waters, as we visit the seasid...
2021-06-15 More than £600k raised to expa More than £600k raised to expand Brecks nature reserve
Tuesday 15 June, 2021
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has reached its fundraising target to expand one of the Brecks’ most important nature re...
2021-06-07 Go wild for beetles this summe Go wild for beetles this summer
Monday 07 June, 2021
Have you seen a two-spot bishy barnabee, a scorpion impersonator or a male beetle with swollen hind legs? This summer...
2021-05-27 30 Days Wild – the UK’s bigges 30 Days Wild – the UK’s biggest nature challenge – reveals people’s favourite ‘random acts of wildness’
Thursday 27 May, 2021
On the eve of the UK’s most popular nature challenge, 30 Days Wild, a survey of last year’s participants ...
2021-05-17 Covid update on re-opening Covid update on re-opening
Monday 17 May, 2021
In light of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, Norfolk Wildlife Trust has today reopened m...
2021-05-17 Future and Form - 21- 30 May S Future and Form - 21- 30 May Shifting Lines
Monday 17 May, 2021
The shifting nature of the North Norfolk coast is evoked through the subtle choreography of voice, natural sounds, vi...