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New report highlights need for urgent action to save Norfolk’s nature

Thursday 28 September, 2023

Today, alongside leading wildlife organisations, we are publishing a landmark State of Nature 2023 report. It shows that nature is continuing to decline at an alarming rate across the UK, which is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. 


The State of Nature 2023 report shows: 

  • One in six species is now at risk of being lost from Great Britain 

  • The wildlife studied has, on average, declined by 19% since monitoring began in 1970 

  • Most important habitats are in poor condition, though restoration projects have clear benefits for nature, people and adapting to climate change 

Our CEO, Eliot Lyne, said: “In Norfolk, we have a great responsibility. Our county is home to a high proportion of the UK’s most wildlife-rich habitats, including chalk streams, reedbed, fens, dry acid grassland and coastal sand dunes. Norfolk is home to a marine protected area and is the stronghold for priority species including swallowtail butterfly, bittern and stone curlew.  


“These wonderful places and wildlife are under threat from pollution, habitat loss and our changing climate. We desperately need wilder and more natural areas to help wildlife recover, enable nature to adapt to climate change and create healthier, happier, and more prosperous communities.  


"The State of Nature Report paints an alarming picture, but there is hope. Many of our nature restoration projects across the county show that it is possible to reverse the declines in wildlife we are seeing. Last week, to address the increasing urgency needed to protect our natural environment, we launched our new strategy ‘A Wilder Norfolk for All’, setting out our increased ambitions for Norfolk’s wildlife and people.  


“The State of Nature report shows that we are reaching a point of no return. Urgent action for nature is required now, and it is more vital than ever that we work together - alongside landowners, businesses, conservation partners, town planners, our communities and with the support of our government.” 


A Wilder Norfolk for All sets out our commitment to create more space for nature to thrive in Norfolk and inspire more people to take action for nature. Its focus is on achieving landscape-scale nature recovery through the protection and restoration of over 60 NWT nature reserves and by working in partnership throughout the county to help create nature corridors throughout Norfolk on over 1,500 County Wildlife Sites, across farmland and on other privately owned land. 


Our projects across the county show that it is possible to reverse the declines in wildlife we are seeing, including: 

  • The creation of new inland reedbeds at Hickling Broad, Potter Heigham and Wissey Wetlands, support rare wildlife including marsh harrier, bittern and bearded tit. This work is providing new homes for wildlife that is likely to be displaced as rising seas threaten existing freshwater habitat on the Norfolk coast. 

  • Supporting rare plants in the Brecks such as Spanish catchfly and proliferous pink at sites including Cranwich Camp and our Arable Plant Reserve near Weeting Heath.  

  • Pingo restoration in the Brecks at Thompson Common and neighbouring land including Watering Farm is helping rare species to recolonise, including northern pool frog and scarce emerald damselfly. 

  • Heathland restoration at sites including Roydon Common and Grimston Warren has seen the return of species including nightjar and curlew and supporting scarce lowland mire plant species including black darter dragonfly, keeled skimmer dragonfly and round-leaved sundew. 

  • Protection of coastal sand dunes at sites including Holme Dunes has seen the return of rare natterjack toads. 

  • Restoring peatlands in the Fens as part of The Fens East Peat Partnership, will offer climate change benefits, potential protection against flooding, improving water quality and supporting scare Norfolk species including dragonflies and damselflies, wading birds, bitterns, cranes and otters. 

  • The creation of a new urban nature reserve at Sweet Briar Marshes in Norwich sees NWT protecting urban wildlife, including species such as water vole, common toad and frog, orchids, reed bunting, willow warbler and snipe. The new nature reserve will support vulnerable species to move through the landscape along the Wensum River corridor and bring urban communities closer to nature. 

People’s concern about nature loss, climate change and degraded wild places is a significant voting issue. The Wildlife Trusts are calling on politicians of all parties to commit to an ambitious programme of policies to support nature’s recovery. 

In view of the nature crisis, The Wildlife Trusts have identified five priorities for politicians ahead of the next general election (see note 2): 

  • Bring back the UK’s lost wildlife 

  • End river pollution and water scarcity

  • Fund wildlife-friendly farming  

  • Enable healthy communities 

  • Tackle the climate emergency by protecting and restoring natural habitats 

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “The State of Nature report is a stark reminder that politicians must not let nature drop down the agenda – there is far too much at stake. We desperately need better policies that fund nature-friendly farming properly, end the poisoning of lakes and rivers, and create larger wild and more natural areas – including in towns and cities.  

“This next parliament is the most important in my lifetime for nature and climate action. The clock is ticking towards the 2030 deadline by which point the UK Government has committed to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature and to halve the risks posed by pesticides. Nature recovery is fundamental to tackling climate change and improving people’s lives – history will not be kind to politicians that ignore this truth.” 

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