Built Environment

North Norfolk: Wilder, wetter, better for nature

0ha

new habitat created

0km

river improvements

0ha

wetland improvements

Project summary

This project will create entirely new wildlife habitat from current arable land.
It will fill in the habitat gaps north of the A149 (945 ha) to give a contiguous area of habitat of 13,470 ha.
It will also create and enhance terrestrial corridors along four chalk rivers (480 ha). In total, 1425 ha of additional wildlife-rich habitat will be created to link already protected sites, providing more diverse and better-connected habitats.

Background

The saltmarsh and brackish habitats of North Norfolk support priority species. The area has national/international conservation importance for a variety of coastal habitats.

The Wash and North Norfolk Coast Marine Protected Area Network contains:

  • 3 Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
  • 3 Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

The Norfolk Coast National Landscape contains:

  • 6 National Nature Reserves (NNR)
  • 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • 1 Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
  • 85 County Wildlife Sites (CWS)

Scattered non-designated habitat patches in combination with these designated sites form island sanctuaries for nature within the wider agricultural landscape. The North Norfolk Coast also hosts the Rivers Burn, Stiffkey, Glaven and Hun, which are internationally rare chalk streams.

Aims

  • 530k of environmental and access improvements, including 20km river and 24 hectares of wetland improvements
  • 6 jobs (4FTE) and 4 Kickstart placements
  • £200k direct to environmental charities
  • A comprehensive community programme and £30k of volunteer involvement.

Objectives

To create a wide range of differing habitat types and conditions which favour a diverse array of protected species, via species recovery and river corridor restoration:

  • New grazing marsh and freshwater habitats in the coastal plain
  • New, drier semi-natural areas: grass-scrub mosaics across the area
  • Restore naturally functioning, river-floodplain corridors and associated freshwater wetland mosaics for the four chalk rivers as well as 70ha of former sand dune

Potential longer term benefits:

  • The coastal plain to function as a fully dynamic environment as sea levels rise and saline/brackish habitats roll landwards and up the river valleys
  • Creation of inland freshwater habitat to compensate for coastal freshwater habitat reclaimed by the sea
  • Improve species migration and colonisation opportunities, enhance biodiversity, improve water quality, increase climate change resilience and connect visitors and local communities to the natural world around them.

Comment

Jonah Tosney, Operations director of the Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: “Norfolk’s Hun and Stiffkey both share challenges with sea-level rise, man-made modifications removing natural flow, and pollution and fragmented habitats resulting in unfavourable conditions for wildlife. Our project will provide innovative solutions to combat these problems whilst also providing opportunities for the local communities.”

Start & finish date

November 2021 — Present

Management Plan strand

The Natural Environment

Partners involved

Norfolk Rivers Trust
Norfolk Coast Partnership

Funded by

Landscape Recovery scheme