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

2020-08-12 Cley Calling Remotely: NWT pre Cley Calling Remotely: NWT presents new season of digital wildlife discussions
Wednesday 12 August, 2020
An autumn programme of wildlife discussions will be available to watch online for free as Norfolk Wildlife Trust welc...
2020-07-29 Illegal bike course removed fr Illegal bike course removed from SSSI
Wednesday 29 July, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has this morning removed a bike course that was illegally constructed at NWT Syderstone Common...
2020-07-15 Coronavirus update: Norfolk Wi Coronavirus update: Norfolk Wildlife Trust opens Cley Marshes visitor centre
Wednesday 15 July, 2020
A ‘brew, a loo and a view’ as Norfolk Wildlife Trust reopens the visitor centre at its flagship nature re...
2020-07-13 Norfolk schools get a taste of 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 pars...
2020-07-12 Re-opening Update Re-opening Update
Sunday 12 July, 2020
28 July 2020 Today the car park at Ranworth Broad will re-open, on its standard opening and closing times. ...
2020-07-10 New report calls for ambitious New report calls for ambitious pesticide reduction target
Friday 10 July, 2020
Today The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report ‘Reversing the decline of insects’ which shows h...
2020-06-08 World Oceans Day call for High World Oceans Day call for Highly Protected Marine Areas 
Monday 08 June, 2020
The Wildlife Trusts call for an ambitious delivery plan for Highly Protected Marine Areas within a year, backing reco...
2020-06-05 Check before you come to the N Check before you come to the Norfolk Coast
Friday 05 June, 2020
Organisations along the Norfolk Coast are working hard to make the area of outstanding natural beauty safe for visito...
2020-06-01 Summer survey to spot insects Summer survey to spot insects
Monday 01 June, 2020
Can you spot the messenger of good tidings, the creature of habit and the gardener’s helpful bumblebee this sum...
2020-05-21 New review shows the benefits New review shows the benefits of daily nature contact as 30 Days Wild draws close
Thursday 21 May, 2020
The feel-good factor from simple daily contact with nature can last for months, once initiated, according to a new re...
2020-05-18 NWT reaction to conditional su NWT reaction to conditional support for Western Link road
Monday 18 May, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is dismayed to learn that central government support has been given to the Western Link road f...
2020-05-13 Coronavirus Update Coronavirus Update
Wednesday 13 May, 2020
Update Friday 19 June and Friday 26 JuneThe beach car park at Cley Marshes is now open. The visitor centre, toilets a...