Bure and Thurne

The Landscape

This Living Landscape covers the northern part of The Broads, perhaps Norfolk's most iconic landscape. Some 30% of the area survives as semi-natural habitat of high wildlife value, much of international importance. Most distinctive are the shallow 'broads' or lakes (the result of medieval peat diggings that have subsequently flooded), and their associated fens, swamps and reedbeds. Much of the remaining area has been deep drained, allowing conversion to grazing marsh supporting livestock (primarily cattle) farming, while the driest areas and the higher hinterland are used for arable farming. The north-eastern part of the landscape abuts the North Sea, where the coastal strip comprises sandy beaches and a hard flood defence now covered by sand dunes (without which much of the area would be inundated by the sea). Whilst poor water quality, increasing tourism and development pressures are having their impacts, it is climate change and likely sea level rise that pose the greatest threat to the long term future of this landscape.

Priority Habitats

  • The shallow open water of the broads can support important aquatic plants where water quality allows.
  • Wet 'carr' woodland forms an important component of wetland habitat mosaics.
  • Coastal sand dunes support a range of rare plants and invertebrates.

Priority Species

  • As the breeding population continues to expand, so cranes are becoming an increasingly common sight.
  • The Norfolk hawker dragonfly is one of many species confined to this iconic landscape.
  • Reed is important both to the wildlife and the economy of the area.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is adopting an ambitious approach to nature conservation: working in partnership with others and engaging local communities to restore and create networks of habitats at a landscape scale. The vision is to forge wildlife-rich Living Landscapes enjoyed by and benefitting all. In the Bure & Thurne Living Landscape, NWT proposes to:-
  • Given the vulnerability of the landscape and local communities to the impacts of climate change (particularly sea level rise), support relevant research and work with stakeholders to identify sustainable and environmentally appropriate responses.
  • Manage the Trust’s growing land holding such that the Broads, fens, reedbeds and carr woodland reach and retain favourable condition.
  •  Identify and deliver opportunities for the creation of further wetland habitat, particularly in low-lying areas that are likely to become increasingly marginal for agriculture.
  • Work with landowners to ensure that grazing marshes, and particularly the associated ditch networks, contribute as effectively as possible to wider ecological connectivity.
  • Where necessary, promote targeted conservation action aimed at securing the survival of iconic Broadland species (such as the swallowtail and bittern) or establishing new species that it is anticipated will arrive from the Continent (e.g. spoonbill and cattle egret).
  • Engage with relevant partnerships to promote the catchment-scale improvements in water quality required to underpin a more biodiverse Broads landscape.
  • As water quality improves and working alongside others, intervene in relevant broads to restore clear water ecosystems.
  • Promote understanding and appropriate valuation of the ecosystem services provided by the landscape, including flood alleviation, carbon storage etc.
  • Work with partners to understand and realise the economic value of products derived from the landscape, including reed, sedge and timber.
  • Build on the success of the Bure Valley Conservation Group, expanding the work of the group and providing more opportunities for people to become actively engaged in the landscape.
  • Utilising visitor facilities at Hickling and Ranworth as a starting point, look to inform locals and visitors alike about the unique value of and challenges facing the Broads.
  • Work to forge stronger links between local businesses, particularly those in the tourism sector, and the natural environment on which they rely.