Broadland is a unique expanse of East Anglia extending from east Norfolk down into Suffolk. It consists of numerous navigable waterways and sections of open water forming Britain's largest protected wetland. The broads are essentially manmade and were formed when Medieval peat diggings later became flooded. In the past trading wherries used the waterways for transporting heavy loads, but today the remaining wherries are pleasure craft and the broads are used mainly for leisure and tourism.
Our local NWT group concentrates on the northern section of broadland, taking in the major nature reserves of the rivers Bure, Ant and Thurne. The two largest broads, Hickling and Barton, are both NWT reserves, as are the smaller broads at Upton, Ranworth, Alderfen, Cockshoot and Martham.
Around each of these stretches of open water there are fens, marshes, reedbeds and carr woodlands making up a diverse network of wetland habitats. The region abounds with Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and the whole of broadland is designated a Special Protection Area (SPA).
The Broads are home to many rare and beautiful creatures including Swallowtail butterflies, Norfolk Hawker dragonflies, Bitterns, Otters and Water Voles. The winter raptor roost at Stubb Mill, NWT Hickling Broad can contain up to 100 Marsh Harriers and over 30 Common Cranes frequent the same marshes. NWT Upton Broad and Marshes is one of the best sites in the whole county for dragonflies and has recently been extended to several times its original size. NWT Ranworth Broad and NWT Barton Broad both have colonies of Common Terns that nest on specially built floating platforms and at Barton there is also a successful heronry in the carr woodland.