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 reserves for wildlife: securing for conservation three areas of land at NWT Thompson Common.
NWT needed to raise £625,625 by May to secure the land. An incredible legacy gave the Trust a significant head start and with remarkable generosity of members and supporters from all over the UK the Trust has reached its target and completed on one of the land purchases. The second is underway.
The two areas of land comprise arable land at Mere Farm and woodland habitats at Stow Bedon. Following restoration they will expand and protect the habitats at Thompson Common. In the interim, again with legacy and donor support, NWT acquired a third area adjacent to Thompson Common: Crow’s Meadow.
NWT’s National Nature Reserve, Thompson Common is one of Norfolk’s biodiversity hotspots. Its mosaic of habitats – wet and dry grasslands, hedges, woodland and more than 400 Ice Age pools known as pingos – are precious and support much rare and threatened wildlife including dragonflies, aquatic snails, England’s rarest amphibian the northern pool frog, and many rare water plants.
The new areas of land will now be brought into NWT’s conservation management to restore Brecks heath grassland and prehistoric pingos that have been lost and continue the protection of Stow Bedon, which is already working well for wildlife. This will involve soil sampling and investigating the hydrology and landscape of the site, using LIDAR data (three-dimensional mapping of the landscape achieved through measurements of light reflection over time) to identify subtle differences in the topography where old pingos may have existed. Restoration will require removing the nutrients from the soil, using sheep and cattle grazing and potentially even stripping and removing the top layer of soil.
Jon Preston, NWT Nature Conservation Manager said: “The prospect of taking on a new piece of land, especially one with as much potential as Mere Farm, is an exciting one. Its proximity to our existing reserve at Thompson Common means that there is amazing opportunity to restore rare ice age pingos, recreate Brecks grassland habitats, and reconnect the landscape to protect Thompson Common and its wildlife.”
Interim joint Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Nik Khandpur said: “In total these three land areas cover 59 hectares (146 acres) and represent a major acquisition for the conservation charity during this, our 95th anniversary year. Restoring this land back to its past richness will increase its resilience in the future for the many species that rely on its presence. This could not have been achieved without the major public support we received. We are inspired and humbled and wish to thank everyone who has supported us, in many different ways.”
NWT’s Thompson Common appeal forms part of the national 30 by 30 campaign to kickstart nature’s recovery across 30% of land by 2030. All 46 Wildlife Trusts are committed to expanding nature reserves and allowing nature to thrive across joined up landscapes.
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