Reed beds - Habitat Action Plan

Ref 1/H1 Habitat Action Plan 1
Plan Author: RSPB
Plan Co-ordinator: RSPB
Final Draft 31 December 1998
Revised Draft (under review) June 2004
Final Revised Draft August 2005

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

Definition

  • Reedbed is defined in this plan as S4 National Vegetation Classification communities, all other communities containing reed to be included in the fen action plan.
  • In Broadland, the fen resource has been surveyed and mapped. The distribution of reedbed vegetation by valley is as follows:
 

S4

S4 transitions

S26

Ant Valley

43.76ha

8.7ha

4.75ha

Thurne Valley

112.95ha

25.92ha

3.13ha

Muckfleet Valley

10.49ha

0.06ha

4.07ha

Bure Valley

27.68ha

5.9ha

64.39ha

Yare Valley

43.64ha

-

279.07ha

Waveney Valley

6.46ha

0.92ha

63.75ha

 
  • A rare habitat. The RSPB Reedbed Inventory suggests over 1540 ha in Norfolk - almost 30% of the UK resource. However, the definition of reedbed used for this inventory was wider than that proposed here. Tables 1 and 2 show the sites over 20 and 10 ha respectively from the inventory excluding known fen sites.
  • Reedbeds of less than 10 hectares are listed in Table 3 below.  Some of these sites are known to support priority species, including bittern.
  • Over 50 species of conservation concern in Norfolk depend fully or partly on reedbeds and associated fens. However further research is necessary to fully identify the status of many species. The following are likely to provide the main focus:
  • birds - bittern, bearded tit, marsh harrier, Savi's warbler;
  • mammals - otter, water shrew, harvest mouse;
  • moths - small dotted footman, Fenn's wainscot, reed leopard;
  • other invertebrates - including BAP species such as the diving beetle (Bidessus unistriatus).

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Current factors affecting the habitat in Norfolk

  • Several important reedbeds in north Norfolk are threatened by coastal erosion and some by increasingly frequent saline incursion including the Broads.
  • Lack of biological information, particularly concerning reedbed invertebrates.
  • Lack of appropriate management of some existing reedbeds leading to drying and scrub encroachment and unsympathetic cutting regimes.
  • Lack of hydrological information.
  • Water abstraction leading to concern over freshwater supplies.
  • Inappropriate water level management.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • Of the 16 sites in Tables 1 and 2, all but five are within SSSIs and most are under sympathetic management (eg NWT, NT, EN, RSPB reserves).
  • Current agri-environment schemes now include actions for reedbeds, which allows landowners to maintain and manage reedbeds.
  • A number of key sites have been enhanced eg Titchwell, Hickling, Strumpshaw, Holme, Woodbastwick.
  • There are a number of reedbed creation projects being progressed at Stiffkey, Ant valley.
  • The TEN project and Broads vision have identified potential reedbed creation sites.
  • The Broads Reedcutters' Association has been established and is being encouraged to undertake the sustainable management of reedbeds.

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Action Plan Objectives and Proposed Targets

National

  • Identify and rehabilitate by the year 2000 the priority areas of existing reedbed (targeting those of 2 ha or more) and maintain this thereafter by active management.
  • Create 1200 ha of new reedbed on land of low nature conservation interest by 2010. This should be in blocks of at least 20 ha:
  • in areas near to existing habitat;
  • linked with existing habitat wherever possible.

Norfolk

  • Maintain existing area and quality as a minimum. Identify and rehabilitate by the year 2010 the priority areas of existing reedbed which are not currently at favourable conservation status.
  • Create new reedbed to replace reedbeds likely to be lost due to changes to coastal management. These should be located as near as possible to existing sites on areas of current low nature conservation interest.
  • Create an additional 600 hectares of new reedbed safe from future threat of sea level rise within Norfolk by 2010. This will be on areas of current low nature conservation interest.

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Norfolk Distribution

Table 1 - Sites >20 ha from RSPB Reedbed Inventory 1993 - Norfolk

FRESH OR SALTWATER     

SITE NAME

GRID REF

SSSI or OTHER NAME

REED

1993

Belton/Fritton

TG460015

88.9

?

Burgh Common

TG445125

Burgh Common and Muckfleet Marsh

24.3

F

Cley Marshes

TG055445

North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

43.0

F

Haddiscoe/Wheatacre

TM470973

21.1

S

Heacham Beach (South)

TF660360

22.3

F

Hickling Broad (include Heigham)

TG420200

Upper Thurne Broads and Marsh

141.5

F

Horsey Mere

TG449222

Upper Thurne Broads and Marsh

87.5

F

Langley

TG470039

21.9

F

Ranworth Flood

TG370150

Bure Broads and Marshes SSSI

70.0

F

Reedham Marsh

TG366193

Ant Broads and Marshes SSSI

65.6

F

Stanford Training Area

TL870940

Stanford Training Area SSSI

62.6

F

Titchwell

TF752445

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

25.2

F

Number of Sites = 12

Total Area = 673.9

 Table 2 - Sites >10 ha from RSPB Reedbed Inventory 1993 - Norfolk

SITE NAME

GRID REF

SSSI or OTHER NAME

REED
1993

FRESH OR SALTWATER

East Walton Common

TF734163

East Walton Common SSSI

14.8

F

Heacham Beach (North)

TF668390

 

14.4

F

Horsey Dunes

TG463240

Winterton-Horsey Dunes SSSI

12.9

F

Salthouse

TG066447

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

12.0

F

Number of Sites = 4

Total Area = 54.1

Table 3 - Sites <10 ha from RSPB Reedbed Inventory 1993 - Norfolk

SITE NAME

GRID REF

SSSI or OTHER NAME

REED
1993

FRESH OR SALTWATER

Berney Marshes

TG500075

Breydon Water SSSI

1.6

?

Blakeney Fresh

TG034447

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

3.0

F

Booton Common

TG113230

Booton Common SSSI

2.1

F

Borthwicks Marsh, near Titchwell

TF767443

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

5.0

F

Brancaster Golf Course

TF768448

 

4.5

S

Brancaster Staithe

TF790444

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

9.0

S

Buckenham Hassingham Broads

TG365055

 

?

F

Burgh Castle

TG473047

 

9.3

S

Burn River

TF84

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

?

F

Burnham Deepdale

TF815450

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

6.2

F

Burnham Norton (North)

TF830448

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

2.6

F

Burnham Norton (South)

TF834437

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

8.5

F

Burnham Overy

TF854450

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

2.0

F

Buxton Heath

TG175218

Buxton Heath SSSI

0.5

F

Cantley Beet Farm

TG392032

 

?

F

Castle Acre Common

TF802152

Castle Acre Common SSSI

2.1

F

Cranberry Rough

TL934936

Cranberry Rough, Hockham S

6.3

F

Dereham Rush Meadow

TF976140

Dereham Rush Meadow SSSI

2.4

F

Dersingham (Snettisham)

TF680315

 

?

F

Didlington Park Lakes

TL777963

Didlington Park Lakes SSSI

2.4

F

Dillington Carr

TF971158

Dillington Carr, Gressenhall

4.6

F

East Harling Common

TM000879

East Harling Common SSSI

1.5

F

East Ruston Common

TG340280

East Ruston Common SSSI

9.2

F

Fritton Decoy

TG482005

 

?

F

Guist

TF993251

River Wensum SSSI

?

F

Gunton Park Lakes

TG221345

Gunton Park Lakes SSSI

1.0

F

Halvergate Marshes

TG435060

Halvergate Marshes SSSI

1.5

F

Hardley Flood

TM380987

Hardley Flood SSSI

9.1

F

Hempstead Marshes

TG410232

 

1.5

F

Holkham Fresh 1

TF875446

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

3.6

F

Holkham Fresh 2 (Wells)

TF910454

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

5.3

F

Holme (Inner)

TF718438

 

0.3

F

Holme (Next-the-Sea)

TF710443

 

1.6

F

Lynn Beet Factory

TF613180

 

?

F

River Bure River Rond

TG504095

 

?

F

River Waveney River Rond

TG501930

 

?

S?

River Yare River Rond

TG430016

 

?

S?

Rollesby and Filby Broads

TG4616

 

?

F

Roydon Common

TF685225

Roydon Common SSSI

0.6

F

Scoulton Mere

TF985014

Scoulton Mere SSSI

4.2

F

Sea Mere

TG035012

Sea Mere, Hingham SSSI

6.5

F

Sheringham and Beeston Regis

TG164424

Sheringham and Beeston Regis

2.4

F

Stiffkey

TF987442

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

1.3

F

Thetford Golf Course and Marsh

TL845838

Thetford Golf Course and Marsh

8.0

F

Thompson Water, Carr and Common

TL930955

Thompson Water, Carr and Common

3.7

F

Thornham East

TF742440

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

5.4

F

Thornham West

TF730439

 

8.9

F

Wells-Next-the-Sea

TF930437

North Norfolk Coast SSSI

1.6

F

Weybourne

TG110436

 

2.3

F

Whitlingham Marshes

TG285075

 

?

F

Whitwell Common, Reepham

TG088206

Whitwell Common SSSI

7.3

F

Winterton

TG487204

Winterton-Horsey Dunes SSSI

5.7

F

Wretham Park Meres

TL902918

Wretham Park Meres SSSI

5.7

F

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Management Guidance

The management of reedbeds falls into two broad areas: the management of water and that of the reed itself. Within these, the fundamental requirement is the frequency of cutting of the reed and control of water levels and movement.

Control of water levels can:

  • Encourage reed at the expense of other species;
  • Increase the rate of 'litter' (dead plant material) breakdown and reduce the rate of drying out of reedbeds;
  • Facilitate management practices;
  • Provide an aquatic habitat.

Reed cutting can be used to:

  • Reduce the rate of 'litter' accumulation;
  • Provide reed as a product for thatching etc;
  • Stimulate new bud production;
  • Provide variety of habitats and control reed encroachment.

Cutting reed in the winter is a sustainable method of managing reedbeds. Annual cutting favoured for the production of reed for commercial purposes will create a different type of reedbed than one cut less frequently. A variety of cutting regimes will create conditions for a wide variety of species. The presence of open water is a crucial component of reedbeds, providing additional habitat variety for a number of scarce species such as bittern.

Over a period of time, many reedbeds will dry out as reed 'litter' accumulates. Reedbed restoration either through raising water levels or lowering the surface of the reedbed may then be required in order to maintain the interest.

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References and Contacts

Hawke, CJ and Jose PV. 1996. Reedbed Management for Commercial and Wildlife Interests. RSPB.

Key Contact:

  • RSPB
    East Anglia Regional Office
    Stalham House
    65 Thorpe Road
    NORWICH
    Norfolk
    NR1 1UD
    Tel: 01603-660066 / Fax: 01603-660088

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