NWT Beetley Meadows

Small but significant land purchase re-unites SSSI 

Thursday 01 October, 2020

Two of Norfolk’s finest wet grasslands, which sit either side of the river Wensum, are to be united, as Norfolk Wildlife Trust purchases the missing half of this Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI).

The small but significant purchase of Beetley Meadows and adjoining Beetley Wood means alongside its nature reserve at Hoe Rough, NWT can protect the whole SSSI and provide major benefits for wildlife, including five species of orchids: early marsh, common spotted, southern marsh, green-winged and twayblade. 

Beetley and Hoe Meadows will be grazed during summer once the new meadow has been re-fenced. NWT hopes to link the two sites with a foot and cattle bridge over the river to improve access for people to enjoy the reserve.

Mid Norfolk is a rich area for wildlife. There are 21 wildlife sites along almost five miles of the Dereham Stream / Wendling Beck/ Whitewater River corridor. This is rare chalk stream habitat, home to otters, water voles and river water crowsfoot.

Of these 21 sites, NWT now owns three of the four SSSIs: Potters & Scarning, Rush Meadows (jointly with Anglian Water) and Beetley and Hoe Meadows. The remaining 17 sites are County Wildlife Sites, four of which are owned by the Trust and the rest privately owned but with management advice from NWT. 

NWT is working on future projects along the river corridor to really improve the habitat for wildlife. This will have significant implications for ecological connectivity across the landscape and major benefits for wildlife by improving the consistency and efficiency of the conservation management, as well as securing the future of the habitats. 

Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Pamela Abbott said: 
“NWT has owned Hoe Rough, a 12 hectare nature reserve of wet meadow and pasture woodland since 1989. We are delighted to have now secured for conservation the remaining half of the SSSI: the seven hectare Beetley Meadows and adjoining four hectare Beetley Wood. These will be managed as one site, increasing the safe area for wildlife.” 

Nature Conservation Manager at NWT, Steve Collin said: 
“We have been focussed on the Mid-Norfolk landscape to restore areas where we can along the river corridor habitats, including the purchase of Rushmeadows in 2013, and management of a County Wildlife Site next to NWT Scarning Fen. We are working hard to create ecological links between these isolated nature reserves by working with neighbouring landowners and increasing the size of existing reserves when the opportunities to do so arise.” 

The land was bought from a charitable trust and we hope to link with footpaths on the adjacent parish council owned land. The purchase was made possible thanks to a generous legacy gift to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, plus support from Anglian Water Flourishing Environment Fund and Banister Charitable Trust.
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