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New life to be breathed into section of the Broads

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:58 06 July 2010

As Matthew Bradbury scans the windswept and secluded stretch of the Norfolk Broads, he may be two years too early to appreciate its varied wildlife.

For as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust head of nature reserves surveyed the Upton Broad and Marshes yesterday he was counting down the hours until work starts on breathing new life into the site.

As Matthew Bradbury scans the windswept and secluded stretch of the Norfolk Broads, he may be two years too early to appreciate its varied wildlife.

For as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust head of nature reserves surveyed the Upton Broad and Marshes yesterday he was counting down the hours until work starts on breathing new life into the site.

Thanks to generous EDP readers and wildlife and conservation groups, work is about to begin on restoring the grazing marsh to draw a multitude of wildlife to the reserve including otters, water voles, Berwick swans, lapwing and redshank.

It is hoped that a series of wind pumps, dykes, drains, ditches and river channels will lead to a host of aquatic creatures setting up home in the 36 hectare of marshes by the spring of 2011.

If the work was not carried out, the grazing marshes would soon be covered by scrub and became silted up due to a lack of enough water reaching the reserve.

Yesterday, Mr Bradbury was visiting the reserve to oversee the final preparations before the work begins after the final slice of funding - £75,000 from the Environment Agency' bio-diversity scheme - was secured.

The project will cost more than £1m, with EDP readers helping to raise £120,000 from a highly successful appeal last year to buy the 36 hectares of land to add it to the existing Upton Broad and Marshes.

It is hoped by two springs' time that new wildlife will have established itself on the land, which may take 10 years to fully restore.

As well as transforming the land over the next 10 years, the NWT wants to build a new car park and footpaths for the reserve, set up two bird hides and build a link to the River Bure so otters and other creatures can reach the reserve.

Mr Bradbury said: “I think we will all be elated when we manage to restore the land and start seeing more wildlife arrive.

“It won't just be for the benefit of our life time, but will be enjoyed by the next generation.

“The work will be one the biggest and most important projects we will have done over the last few years. If the work was not carried out we would lose the land to scrub and waterways from the Bure would slit up.”

As well as breathing fresh life in the 36 hectares, the NWT has plans to join up the whole 300 hectares of the Upton Broad and Marshes to the Bure Marshes to create a “super reserve” of international importance.

Brendan Joyce, director of the NWT, said: “Our vision is to create a wildlife hub featuring a wide range of flora and fauna in particular wintering wildfowl and breeding waders.

“On a grander scale we hope one day to see Upton Broad joined up to Bure Marshes to form a large area in which wildlife can proliferate and develop healthy populations and sustainable gene pools.”

As well the £120,000 appeal, funding for all the work at the reserve has been provided by Natural England, WREN, the SITA Trust, RWE NPower, the Broads Authority, Essex and Suffolk Water and the HDH Wills Charitable Trust.

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