Archived News

Natural Neighbours - a community biodiversity conference for Norfolk

In 2009, BTCV ran Norfolk's first 'Natural Neighbours' conference in Norwich for community groups working to improve their natural environment. The event, which was organised on behalf of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, was enthusiastically welcomed by local conservation groups, leading to calls for a follow-up event.

In response, a second Natural Neighbours conference was held in July 2011 - this time on the outskirts of King's Lynn. The event set out to help local groups address some of the challenges commonly faced by community-based organisations, such as:

  • How can volunteers be attracted and retained?
  • Where can funding be obtained?
  • How can the technical know-how required for environmental projects be sourced?

Eight innovative local conservation groups shared their knowledge and expertise with delegates: the River Glaven Conservation Group; the Little Ouse Headwaters Project; Draituna Trees; Sheringham Loke Rivercare; Fakenham Area Conservation Team; Hardings Pits; Southrepps Common; and Norwich Community Green Gym. Presentations were also made by the Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative and BTCV.

The day also featured a series of interactive workshops led by local experts, covering river conservation, wildlife surveying and recording, the recruitment of volunteers, and the creation of community woodlands.

The event received very positive feedback and looks set to run again another year, helping people in the heart of communities - both urban and rural - to implement successful conservation projects.

Natural Neighbours was supported by: the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership; Norfolk County Council; the Gaywood Valley Project (Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme); the Geoffrey Watling Charity and the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust.

 

Norfolk community conservation projects receive awards

Eleven Norfolk conservation projects received awards for their outstanding contributions to biodiversity in the county and their engagement with local communities at a special ceremony held at County Hall yesterday (12th July 2011).

The awards are presented each year by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership to the best community biodiversity projects in the county. They recognise the efforts of local people in achieving improvements for the wildlife of Norfolk and reward excellence in this area.

Over 80 participants took part in the event. The awards were presented by Dr Gerry Barnes, Chairman of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and Environment Manager at Norfolk County Council; Steve Scott, Regional Director of the Forestry Commission; Prof Tim O'Riordan, OBE, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia; and Paul Holley, Chair of the Partnership's Communities and Nature Topic Group. In his keynote address, Prof. O'Riordan spoke movingly about the history of the Partnership, the fundamental importance of local conservation action and the increasing recognition of biodiversity in both national and international policy.

Scott Perkin, Biodiversity Services Co-ordinator, said: "There are many wonderful stories behind this year's award winners which demonstrate just how much can be achieved by enthusiastic groups and individuals keen to enhance their local communities for wildlife. The Partnership is delighted to recognise the excellent conservation work that is taking place across the county."

Group Award


Winner: Draituna Trees

Draituna Trees wins the Group Award for outstanding teamwork in establishing and maintaining new woodland areas for community benefit in Drayton.

Highly Commended: Friends of Eaton Park

Friends of Eaton Park are Highly Commended in the Group Award Category for their inclusive membership and proactive approach towards engaging people with the wildlife of this important urban green space.

Highly Commended: Harding's Pits Community Association

Harding's Pits Community Association is Highly Commended in the Group Award Category for its work to enhance the site for biodiversity, and for encouraging local residents to participate in wildlife recording.


Highly Commended: Whitwell Common Trustees

Whitwell Common Trustees are Highly Commended in the Group Award Category for their crucial role in shaping the future of the Common and their efforts to engage the local community in practical conservation activities.

Education Award

Winner: The Art Department at Acle High School

The Art Department at Acle High School wins the Education Award, in recognition of its work to engage young people with local biodiversity, through the creation of artwork exhibited in nearby Burlingham Woods.

Highly Commended: Pott Row First School

Pott Row First School is Highly Commended in the Education Award Category, for its efforts to encourage Key Stage 1 children to expand their knowledge of the wildlife and landscape of the Gaywood River Valley.

Site Award


Winner: Litcham Common Management Committee

Litcham Common Management Committee wins the Site Award for the restoration of lowland heath, using techniques such as the re-establishment of grazing by ponies.

Individual Award


Winner: Ernest Woodrow

Ernest Woodrow wins the Individual Award for his outstanding voluntary efforts to run the Norwich Community Green Gym, co-ordinating workout sessions and practical conservation with infectious enthusiasm.

Highly Commended: Emma Harwood

Emma Harwood is Highly Commended in the Individual Award Category, for her efforts to foster appreciation and respect for the natural environment amongst the pupils, parents and colleagues of the primary school where she teaches.

Highly Commended: John Ellis

John Ellis is Highly Commended in the Individual Award Category, for his work to establish a new study centre at the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve at Wheatfen, Surlingham, which will help visitors to appreciate the remarkable biodiversity found at the site.

Species Award

Winner: The Norwich Bat Group

The Norwich Bat Group is winner of the Species Award for its outstanding work to raise awareness of bats in Norwich through an inspirational programme of bat walks, talks, training and activities.
(Photo Credit: Charles Greenhough)
20 July 2011

 
 

Conference hears from 'alien' experts

Killer shrimp, Japanese knotweed, American signal crayfish and coypu were just some of the invasive alien species that participants learned about at the Norfolk Non-native Species Stakeholders' Forum on 24 May 2011. The half-day event was organised by the Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative (NNNSI), and featured presentations on the latest national issues as well as local case studies.

Dr Dick Shaw, a scientist with CABI, talked about the biological control of Japanese knotweed using a tiny Japanese bug which feeds exclusively on this notorious invasive plant. Norfolk has been chosen as one of just a handful of locations across the country for the trialled release of the bug, which sucks the sap of the plants, weakening and stunting them and offering a sustainable long-term control mechanism.

Genevieve Madgwick from Natural England gave a fascinating presentation on the threats to our native aquatic ecosystems from an invasive non-native killer shrimp - so named because of its aggressive nature. A national 'Check, Clean, Dry' campaign should help to prevent the spread of this species which is causing great concern because of its potential to affect aquatic biodiversity.

Local presentations included an update from Mike Sutton-Croft on the progress of the NNNSI. The Initiative is involved in numerous field-level projects to control and eradicate invasive species across the county and will soon be launching 'Broads Sweep', a local campaign calling for public help with spotting invasive non-native species in the Norfolk Broads, including mink, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed.

Paul Sims from Native Landscapes talked about another NNNSI project to eradicate floating pennywort from the River Waveney. This highly invasive plant has the potential to choke rivers and waterways, impeding anglers, boaters and other recreational users and severely impacting native biodiversity.

The day ended with an in-depth case study on the successful eradication of coypu in the UK, presented by Dr Simon Baker. This project was remarkable for its use of data and population modelling to guide eradication efforts, and remains one of the best examples to date of a successful eradication of an invasive mammal. Coypu are South American rodents introduced to Britain to farm for fur. Escapees were all too successful in the wild, causing widespread damage to native aquatic vegetation.

The conference, which is an annual event, attracted over 50 delegates and received very positive feedback from participants.

 

Bug offers opportunity to tackle invasive plant


Photo credit: CABI

Norfolk has been chosen as one of the places for the controlled release of a biological control agent that will help stem the spread of invasive Japanese knotweed. The plant is one of the world's worse invasive species. It grows vigorously, damaging tarmac concrete and drains, and currently costs £150 million annually to control in the UK.

The tiny control bug from Japan - which feeds exclusively on Japanese knotweed and doesn't pose a threat to any similar species - is called Aphalara itadori - and is related to aphids.

The young bugs suck the sap of the Japanese knotweed plants, weakening and stunting them, offering a sustainable, long-term control mechanism.

The bug has been licensed for use as a biological control agent under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which ensures that it has gone through a thorough pest-risk analysis to ensure it won't become a threat itself.

Dr Dick Shaw of the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau (CABI) which has been studying the specialist insect in quarantine said: "We are very excited about the use of Aphalara itadori to control Japanese knotweed. The bug has co-evolved alongside knotweed and is specific to it, so it's ideal for the job. It won't eradicate the knotweed completely, but it does give us the chance to manage it better, at lower cost".

Mike Sutton-Croft, Co-ordinator for the Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative (NNNSI), is delighted that Norwich has been chosen as one of the test sites for Aphalara itadori. "We are very pleased to be part of the UK trials to control knotweed. This plant poses a very serious threat to biodiversity as well as causing severe economic impacts. Doing nothing is not an option."

The NNNSI Stakeholders' Forum meeting, held on 24th May 2011 in Norwich, heard more about the release of Aphalara and developments on the control of other invasive alien species, such as floating pennywort, American mink and signal crayfish. The Forum, which meets annually, encourages networking amongst a diverse range of organisations and stakeholders with an interest in controlling invasive species in Norfolk.

Click here for more information on non-native species

 

Wild plants underpin global food security

Wild Pear
Wild Pear Photo credit: Graeme Cresswell

The importance of Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) - the wild relatives and ancestors of our crop plants - has been highlighted in a new report recently published by Natural England.

Much of the food we consume today comes from a small number of crop plants, which have been selectively bred to produce high yields.

However, they can only do this where there are high inputs of nutrients, energy, pesticides and water - all factors that may not be so plentiful in the future. These selected plants also lack the breadth of useful genetic diversity which allows them to survive across a wide geographic and ecological range.

Experts agree that access to genes from CWR is essential for breeding new crop varieties which will help us meet the challenges of feeding a growing world population in the face of climate change, and dwindling resources.

Some 303 species of CWR have been identified in the UK, including 3 wild species of barley and numerous examples of vegetable and root crops such as sea beet, wild leek and parsnip. Our countryside is also rich in wild relatives of fruits including wild pear, apple, raspberry and blackberry. Conservation of CWR needs to safeguard the full genetic diversity of the commoner species, as well as rarer ones. It is also important that wild populations continue to adapt in the face of climate change, new disease and other challenges - so simple collection and storage of seeds is not the only answer.

The report, authored by John Hopkins and Nigel Maxted, calls for the conservation of CWRs through in situ conservation plans and projects, not least in protected areas and other places with high levels of plant diversity.

Crop Wild Relatives; plant conservation for food security. Natural England Research Report 037.

 

Common frog
Common frog photo credit: Ross Hoddinott
2020Vision

NBP Joins Forces with 2020VISION

NBP is delighted to be an endorsing partner of 2020VISION, Britain's most ambitious photography-based conservation initiative ever. Twenty of the country's top wildlife and nature photographers have come together with leading conservation partners to document the value of restoring Britain's fragmented ecosystems and the life-support services they provide. This elite Phototeam will carry out 20 flagship assignments which clearly demonstrate the link between a healthy, robust natural landscape and the well-being of local people.

The concepts of 'ecosystem services' and 'landscape-scale conservation' are now prevalent in the scientific and conservation community, but the value of a wilder Britain, where ecosystems function as they should, has not yet been communicated on a scale such as this.  2020VISION bridges that gap using the motivational language of inspiring photography - a language in which everyone can find relevance.

The Phototeam, which includes top shooters like Chris Packham, Joe Cornish, Charlie Hamilton-James and Andy Rouse, will be joined by videographers, sound recordists, writers and designers and will visit key locations throughout Britain where large habitats are being restored or re-connected, not only for the benefit of the wildlife species that live there, but also for people. The thousands of images and hours of footage generated from these assignments will then be woven into compelling narratives and presented in innovative ways up and down the country - working with local partners and communities.

More information about 2020VISION can be found at: http://www.2020V.org/

 

Invasive Species Cost the British Economy £1.7 Billion Annually

The financial costs of invasive non-native species to the British economy were unveiled recently in a new report published by CABI - the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (www.cabi.org).

The report, entitled The Economic Cost of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) to the British Economy, was sponsored by the Scottish Government, Defra and the Welsh Assembly. The study estimated the current annual costs of INNS to 12 sectors of the British economy, revealing that the burden on the agricultural and horticultural sectors alone amounts to £1 billion across Britain. Overall, INNS are thought to cost £1.3 billion annually to the English economy; £245 million to the Scottish economy and £125 million to the Welsh economy, equating to a total figure of £1.7 billion annually for Great Britain.

The study used a variety of methods to secure data for its economic estimates, including searches of both the scientific and grey literature and a questionnaire. The economic effects of INNS were revealed to be wide-ranging. Amongst other concerns, the study identified losses of crops, negative impacts on livelihoods, damage to buildings and damage to ecosystems. Five case studies looking at the costs of controlling infestations of Asian long-horned beetle, carpet sea-squirt, water primrose, grey squirrel and coypu revealed that the costs of control increase exponentially as invasion progresses, highlighting the need for intervention at an early stage. In the light of these impacts, the report calls for urgent measures to prevent the introduction and establishment of new INNS to Britain and for the eradication of species that are of greatest concern.

Mike Sutton-Croft, the Co-ordinator of the Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative, said: "This study is the most comprehensive attempt to date to put a price tag on the negative impact of invasive non-native species on the GB economy. It has long been suggested that the cost of invasive species is significant, and we now have the values to back up this assertion."

To download a copy of the full report, please click here.

 

Pioneering study reveals Breckland is a nationally important biodiversity hotspot

Scientists are calling for radical new approaches to conservation following the first biodiversity audit of its kind.

Led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), with partners Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships and County Councils, the Brecks Partnership, and Plantlife, the painstaking study pooled information on the plant and animal species recorded in Breckland - a special landscape of heathland, forest and farmland stretching across the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

In an unprecedented effort, the UEA team collated records for a huge variety of species identified in the region, from the smallest gnat and tiniest beetle, through to birds, plants and mammals. The researchers were astonished to discover that 28 per cent of the UK's BAP species were found in Breckland - an area covering only 0.4 per cent of land in the UK.

This collaborative study's innovative, evidence-based methodology offers a more targeted and dynamic approach to conservation - identifying what biodiversity is present in a region, where it is, and what it needs if it is to thrive.

With the help of over 200 naturalists, UEA collated nearly a million records, showing that some 12,500 species have been found in the region. Of these, more than 2,000 are of national conservation concern. The team went on to analyse the ecological needs of these 2,000 rare species, which allowed them to identify novel approaches for managing habitats to restore and protect this biodiversity. The report provides a manual for land managers, showing them what can be done to restore and conserve the unique biodiversity of the region.

"These exciting findings demonstrate beyond doubt what conservationists have long suspected - that Breckland is a unique region and vitally important hotspot for rare and threatened species, making it a key area for conservation within the UK," said Dr Paul Dolman of UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, who led the study. "Although much of what conservation has achieved is excellent, new approaches are urgently needed or we risk many of these species drifting towards extinction."

To find out more about the Breckland Biodiversity Audit, please click here. To download the full report (9 MB), please click here.

To download the Appendices (3 MB), please click here.

 

Mind the GAP! Landmark report on Norfolk's geodiversity now available

After more than two years of research, the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership has now published Norfolk's Earth Heritage - valuing our geodiversity. This is a landmark publication on Norfolk's geological diversity and the need to conserve it. Some people say that the county has little geology of any importance; this book turns that idea on its head.

Norfolk's Earth Heritage provides a concise yet readable introduction to Norfolk's geodiversity and why it is an important resource for life today. It explains the county's heritage of geology and geomorphology (landforms and physical processes), soil and water features, and their contribution to our diverse landscapes. It shows how Norfolk geology is at the forefront of research into the evidence for successive Ice Ages and the earliest human settlement in Britain.

Biodiversity and geodiversity are the two fundamental elements of the natural world; nature conservation means the conservation of geology and landforms as well as fauna and flora. Almost a quarter of the county's Sites of Special Scientific Interest are designated primarily for their geodiversity. However, geoconservation has lagged behind bioconservation in public understanding and action. Norfolk's Earth Heritage moves to redress that imbalance, explaining the business of geoconservation and promoting a Geodiversity Action Plan (GAP) for the county; it calls for a partnership of like-minded organisations and individuals to join together and take the GAP forward.

Norfolk's Earth Heritage meets a need for readily accessible information for non-geologists. It presents a range of useful reference resources, including books and weblinks; it has a glossary; it includes advice for planners and a list of designated geodiversity sites. It should prove to be a source of information and inspiration for years to come.

The publication is available in printed version at £12 + £2 p&p from jennygladstone@aol.com. It can also be downloaded free-of-charge by clicking here.

 

Annual Forum Highlights the Links between Biodiversity and Economic Development

The natural environment makes a fundamental - but largely overlooked - contribution to our social and economic well-being. Although difficult to quantify, these benefits are worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the local and regional economy.

This was the message heard by delegates at the Annual Biodiversity Forum, which was held on 6 October 2010 on the theme of 'biodiversity and economics'. The Forum attracted almost 100 delegates from a wide array of local organisations and stakeholder groups.

The conference heard from experts working at a national level on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment; this is the first analysis of the country's natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity. Efforts to place a monetary value on the natural environment can be controversial. However, new methodologies are giving us a much better sense of the true economic contributions of biodiversity and ecosystems.

A series of regional and local case studies followed, highlighting some powerful statistics:

  • The benefits and services provided by the East of England's woodlands are worth more than £1 billion per year;
  • The drinking water provided by the Broads is worth £17 million per year;
  • Wildlife-based tourism along the north Norfolk coast is worth some £6.2 million annually, and sustains hundreds of jobs.

Other benefits highlighted by the conference were the therapeutic effects that contact with nature can have on mental and physical health.

The Forum concluded with an engaging talk on the spiritual value of the environment from Nigel Cooper, Chaplain to Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. The talk, entitled 'The value of nature, and the nature of value,' left delegates with an alternative message:

'The spiritual value of nature is not an ill-defined figure to incorporate into a total economic value framework - it is the framework within which we humans and our plans are graciously assigned significance. That may be the greatest value of nature.'

To read the presentations given at the Forum, please click on the links below:

 

Norfolk's Natural Environment Provides the Foundation for Economic Recovery

This year, the Partnership's Annual Biodiversity Forum was organised around the highly relevant theme of 'Biodversity and the Economy'. As part of this event, Norfolk County Council published the results of a study undertaken earlier in the year, which tried to assess the size of the contribution that the high quality environment of Norfolk makes to the local economy. Using secondary analysis of existing reports, the work concluded that the superb biodiversity and landscape of the county, and the resulting quality of life these offer to residents, are worth more than an estimated £900,000,000 per year. To download a copy of the report, please click here.

 

England failing to protect wildlife, says new report

A major report 'Making space for Wildlife' reviewing three 'tiers' of England's wildlife sites (from those affording greatest protection for wildlife such as SSSIs, to those where habitats and species are weakly protected, such as AONB), was published recently by Defra.

The review, which took a year to conduct, set out to establish whether England's current suite of wildlife sites is sufficient - and in good-enough shape - to allow wildlife to thrive in the face of future environmental pressures, such as climate change and development. It concludes that it is not, with failings in four out of five key criteria.

Many wildlife areas are too small, with 77% of SSSIs and 98% of local wildlife sites less than 100 hectares: many species such as bats need to forage over much larger areas to thrive. Sites are also poorly connected, lacking in good quality 'corridors' for wildlife, such as hedgerows or rivers. Many are ineffective at preserving species due to poor management. The report also says that most wildlife sites are not close enough to urban areas to allow appropriate public access with all the social benefits that this would confer. The only quality measure met by the sites is their ability to support the full-range of England's wildlife and habitats.

The review was commissioned for Defra by the Secretary of State, and was chaired by Professor Sir John Lawton. It draws upon data supplied by over 45 organisations, from Local Records Centres to Wildlife Trusts and Natural England, and uses new analyses and Geographical Information System techniques to present the conclusions.

Findings call for:

  • a step-change in nature conservation, embracing a restorative approach to create a resilient natural environment for the benefit of wildlife and people;
  • strong government leadership with effective and positive engagement with landowners and managers;
  • improved collaboration between local authorities, local communities, statutory agencies, the voluntary and private sectors, farmers, other land-managers and individuals.

To help stem the loss of two species per year to extinction, and to achieve a coherent and resilient ecological network, the report's authors recommend the creation of 12 huge 'ecological restoration zones' which will improve connectivity between habitats. An estimated £0.6 to £1.1 bn will be needed to achieve this and it is envisaged that businesses and individual philanthropists as well as government will play a role in making this happen.

Although the picture is worrying, wildlife experts are adamant that the situation can be reversed, writing that 'given resources, determination and skill, we know what to do, and how to do it'. Click here to view the report.

 

NBP Announces Its Community Biodiversity Award Winners

Recipients of the 2009/10 Community Biodiversity Awards
Recipients of the
2009/10 Community
Biodiversity Awards
(Photo Credit: Charles Greenhough)

Biodiversity Award Winner
Steve Scott, Regional Director, Forestry Commission
and Catherine Greenhough,
Winner of the Species Award
 (Photo Credit: Charles Greenhough)

Seven Norfolk conservation projects received the Partnership's Community Biodiversity Awards on 30 September 2010, for their outstanding contributions to wildlife in the county and their engagement with local communities.

The awards are presented each year by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership to the best community biodiversity projects in the county. They recognise the efforts of local people in achieving improvements for the wildlife of Norfolk and reward excellence in this area.

  • Tuckswood Primary School won the Education Award in recognition of its pioneering environmental education programme and its notable habitat creation work, including the establishment of an orchard, pond and meadow.
  • The Blofield and District Conservation Group (BADCOG) received the Local Group Award for its long-running programme of habitat conservation and management and its active involvement of volunteers from the community. The North Norfolk Workout Project was Highly Commended in the Local Group category, in recognition of its conservation work on a wide variety of habitats and its contributions to improving the health and well-being of the local community.
  • Ann Roberts won the Individual Award for the leadership and commitment she has demonstrated in her role as the Chair of the Wymondham Nature Group (WyNG).
  • The Little Ouse Headwaters Project won the Site Award for its outstanding work to conserve, restore and manage the valley fens and associated habitats of the Little Ouse.
  • Catherine Greenhough received the Species Award for her inspirational commitment to bat conservation in Norfolk.
  • David and Christine Cannon received the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership's first Special Achievement Award, in recognition of their longstanding contributions to conservation in the county and in particular, their founding of 'Wild about Norfolk' in 2000.

The awards were presented by Steve Scott, Regional Director of the Forestry Commission, at a special ceremony held at the Assembly House in Norwich on Thursday 30 September.

Dr Gerry Barnes, Environment Manager at Norfolk County Council and Chair of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, said: 'The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership was founded in 1996 and has a proud record of working with local people and communities to help deliver conservation action on the ground. This is the fifth year that the awards have been presented in their current format and the Partnership is delighted that so much local work is taking place across the county.'

 

Major New Project Launched in the Gaywood River Valley

Gaywood Valley
Gaywood Valley

An exciting new project is set to take place over the next two and a half years.

The Gaywood River Valley Project is one of a number of pilot projects receiving funding through the Interreg North Sea programme as part of a transnational initiative called SURF (Sustainable Urban Fringes). SURF involves 15 partners from across the North Sea Region who will work together to test ideas to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of urban fringe areas.

The project area will focus primarily on the hydrometric catchment area for the Gaywood River. This amounts to an area of around 5,700 ha.

A total of £500,000 will be invested. Practical work will include: improvements to access to green open space; habitat enhancement for biodiversity; the creation of linkages between urban areas and the wider open countryside around King's Lynn; and the development of outdoor classrooms for community and school use.

The project will be working in partnership with a wide range of organisations, including local schools, the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, local authorities, the Environment Agency, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, the Norfolk Rural Community Council, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust. The project will also be consulting and working with local communities, parish councils and elected members to ensure that they shape the process of the project.

If you want to learn more about this project, then please contact Gemma Cousins (the Project Officer) on 01553 778024 or email gemma.cousins@norfolk.gov.uk . You can also learn more about the other European SURF projects by visiting www.sustainablefringes.eu

 
 

Invasive Killer Shrimp Recorded in Cambridgeshire

Invasive Killer Shrimp
Killer Shrimp
(Credit: Michal Grabowski)

Dikerogammarus villosus, the 'Killer Shrimp', was found at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire on 3rd September 2010. This is the first record of this species in Great Britain, and at the current time it is not known how the species was introduced to the area. The species is native to the Ponto-Caspian Region of Eastern Europe, but is now widespread across continental Europe, where it is having a hugely detrimental impact on freshwater ecosystems due to its voracious appetite.

It kills a range of native species, such as freshwater invertebrates, particularly native shrimps and even young fish. This alters the ecology of the habitats it invades. It often kills its prey and leaves it uneaten. It tends to dominate the habitats it invades, sometimes causing the extinction of native species.

It is essential that efforts be made to prevent the spread of this species. Advice on the steps that can be taken by those visiting Grafham Water, along with tips on how to identify the shrimp, can be found here.

 

Natural History Museum launches The Big Nature Debate

British people are worried about the drastic loss of native species, the effects of climate change on global wildlife and over-fishing, according to research commissioned by the Natural History Museum. Yet 85% of those asked did not know that next month officials from 193 countries are meeting in Japan to take important decisions about the future of biodiversity, which could affect how we protect, manage and make use of the planet's diversity of life for decades to come.

In the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the Natural History Museum is launching The Big Nature Debate to get the public talking about biodiversity and the world around them. Working with International Year of Biodiversity partners the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the debate will be a platform for information, opinion and discussion about biodiversity issues ahead of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) which is being held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. While governments recognise the importance of the problem, the outcomes from the conference will also rely on ordinary people to understand the issues and help build a more sustainable society. Without this there will be little chance of long-term success.

Dr Robert Bloomfield, Director of the International Year of Biodiversity UK, said 'The rapid loss of biodiversity and natural systems will affect the lives of everyone in coming decades. From our research we know that one in two people in Great Britain, for example, is really worried about the dramatic loss of nearly 500 species of plants, animals and fungi from England in the last 200 years. Two thirds (65%) of people asked would like to know more about issues such as over-fishing and the loss of biodiversity.

'However, species loss is only one part of the problem. The human race relies on the biodiversity of the natural world to maintain the healthy environment in which we all live. Biodiversity loss threatens the health, wealth and well-being of the world's population and will have consequences for generations to come. It is crucial that we understand the scale of the issues and as a global society respond to them while we still can.

'We want to get people talking about these issues and inspire them to make a difference. Very few people (12%) know there is an important meeting next month to take decisions about biodiversity. Only 13% of those surveyed could explain what biodiversity - the amazing variety of life on our planet - is, and how we benefit so much from it. With the Nagoya conference next month, The Big Nature Debate could not come at a more important time and we hope to capture the interest of as many people as possible.'

People can visit www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate where they will be able to quiz the experts, debate issues in forums, subscribe to the RSS feed for latest updates and get biodiversity news through the Museum's Facebook page or by following the Museum on Twitter. The site will host thought-provoking blogs from biodiversity experts and other key thinkers on subjects such as what the world might look like in 2050 or if biodiversity loss has reached a crisis point. There is also the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of scientists for a live streamed debate on 7 October 2010.

Join the debate. Visit www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate, www.nhm.ac.uk/facebook or www.nhm.ac.uk/twitter

 

Two Rare Plant Species Re-discovered in West Norfolk

Marsh clubmoss
Marsh clubmoss
(Credit: Robin Stevenson)

Two remarkable plants have been recorded in west Norfolk recently, after long absences from the county.

The re-discovery of wood club-rush Scirpus sylvaticus was particularly exciting, since it hasn't been recorded in Norfolk since 1880.

It is likely that the new colony, which was discovered by Hattie Aldridge and the Norfolk Flora Group, was established from buried seed. A return to wetter conditions following river restoration work on the River Gaywood may have encouraged germination. Wood club-rush is a member of the sedge family, with grass-like leaves and clusters of small spikelets; it can grow up to one metre in height.

Robin Stevenson, Norfolk County Recorder for bryophytes and mosses, was delighted at the discovery of a healthy colony of a rare moss recently at a site near King's Lynn. The marsh clubmoss Lycopodiella inundata was once common, but loss of habitat has caused a major decline in its distribution and it has now been included on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Clubmosses have an impressive ancestry dating back to the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago, when giant tree-like versions, over 35 metres tall, were common. They are simple plants, related to ferns, although in appearance they resemble true mosses. The term 'club' refers to the shape of the spore-bearing cones that the species produces. Marsh clubmoss grows on acidic wet ground - a habitat which is not found frequently these days. It hasn't been recorded in West Norfolk since 1962, so this is another exciting find.

 

UN Warns of Global Failure to Meet Biodiversity Targets

Global Biodiversity Outlook 3

A recent report published by the United Nations to coincide with the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) has warned that global targets to tackle the loss of biodiversity have not been met. Although actions to safeguard biodiversity have improved, not one government submitting information for the document - the Global Outlook on Biodiversity 3 - was able to report that the 2002 target to halt the loss of biodiversity had been achieved.

With:

  • rapid deterioration of warm-water ocean ecosystems;
  • one quarter of the world's land degraded;
  • the fragmentation of two thirds of our major river systems;
  • species extinction rates thought to be in the order of 130 each day; and
  • the loss of 130,000 square kilometres of forest each year

action is needed immediately because "we are destroying the natural capital upon which our lives depend" (Bob Watson, Chief Scientist, Defra).

The report warns that we will be in unknown territory if, over the next 20 years, we fail to tackle the five key threats to global biodiversity:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation;
  • Excessive nitrogen and other pollutants which are poisoning the environment;
  • Invasive alien species, which are having severe impacts on native plants and animals;
  • Over-exploitation of terrestrial, aquatic and marine species;
  • Climate change.

The document will be submitted to the New York biodiversity summit in September 2010, when world leaders will meet to shape the 2050 vision on biodiversity. Find out more at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1VYmpTikgw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGMkW_vo5GU

 

Glow-worm survey - help record local biodiversity!


Female glow-worm


Female glow-worm
Photo Credit: Roger Key

Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS), which collects biological records for Norfolk, is asking for your help to track down glow-worms in the county. These amazing creatures are probably quite widespread, but we have few official records. If we have a better idea of where they are found, we can investigate whether populations are stable, and look for ways to help them thrive.

Glow-worms belong to a family of beetles called the Lampyridae. Just the adult female glows brightly, using a chemical called luciferin (which is also found in fire-flies) to attract a mate. She has no wings and a segmented body and waits in long grass or low vegetation at night, displaying her lamp to the winged male glow-worm beetles, which are flying above.

Your best chances of seeing glow-worms are:

  • From mid-June to mid-July;
  • On a moonless or overcast night (wait until your eyes can no longer make out colours);
  • On heathland and grass verges, along disused railway lines, in churchyards and along woodland clearings or rides.

Please let NBIS know if you find a glow-worm. Records should contain information about: what you saw; when you saw it; where you saw it (grid reference and habitat); and who you are. You will shortly be able to record online at www.nbis.org.uk. In the meantime, please send NBIS an email at nbis@norfolk.gov.uk, get in touch by phone at 01603 224458 or write to: NBIS, Room 301, County Hall, Norwich NR1 2SG.

To download a glow-worm leaflet, please click here.

 

New Report Highlights England's Alarming Loss of Species

Large copper butterfly
Large copper butterfly - one
of England's lost species

England has lost nearly 500 species in the recent past - the great majority of which have vanished in the last 200 years. This is the disturbing conclusion of an in-depth report recently released by Natural England.

The report, entitled Lost Life: England's Lost and Threatened Species, is the first comprehensive assessment of decline and loss among England's native species. It documents the disappearance of 492 plant and animal species, some of which - such as the great auk and Ivell's sea anemone - are now globally extinct. Overall, 12 per cent of England's land mammals, 22 per cent its amphibians and 24 per cent of its native butterflies have been lost. However, the figure of 492 is almost certainly much smaller than the true total, since information for many species groups, including fungi, algae and marine invertebrates, is very incomplete.

Lost Life was produced by Natural England to coincide with the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. It highlights the ways in which habitat loss and degradation, inappropriate management, persecution, pollution and invasive non-native species have all played a part in the erosion of England's biodiversity.

Looking toward the future, the report identifies a list of 12 groups of species of particular, ongoing concern, including specialist farmland wildlife, long distance migrants and predators suffering from illegal persecution. Amongst other recommendations, the report draws attention to the need to: protect, manage, restore and re-create wildlife habitat; establish an effective network of marine protected areas; and reduce the impacts of invasive non-native species.

To download a free PDF copy of the report or to order a hard copy, please click here.

 

International Year of Biodiversity Launched in Norfolk

International Year of Biodiversity Launched in Norfolk International Year of Biodiversity Launched in Norfolk
(Photo credit: Scott Perkin)

The International Year of Biodiversity was officially launched in Norfolk on 7 March 2010, at a special, all-day event at the Forum in Norwich. The day featured a samba band, eye-catching wildlife costumes, a wide array of exhibits and displays, and activities such as mask making and pond dipping. Organised by the Broads Authority with input from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and the participation of many other conservation organisations, the event was a colourful, informative and sometimes noisy celebration of biodiversity in the Broads and the rest of the county.

Scott Perkin, Norfolk Biodiversity Co-ordinator, said: 'This has been a fantastic start to the International Year of Biodiversity in the county. The day highlighted the vibrancy and amazing diversity of our wildlife, and the music and costumes added a real flair.'

Many other events are planned to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity in Norfolk; please visit the Events page to find out more.

 
 

BTO Celebrates Arrival of Summer Migrants 

A2B Arrival Calendar

With two thirds of the UK's migrant bird species declining, BTO's new A2B Arrival Calendar seeks to raise awareness of the possible problems that birds are facing in their wintering grounds, on migration and in the UK.  Celebrities, scientists and media personalities have all contributed by talking about a specific species on the average arrival date back to the UK.  There are 17 in total; the first featured clip is the Wheatear, where Chris Packham talks about their disappearance from the New Forest. The calendar started on the 20 March and will unveil new clips until the 29 April. BTO are currently investigating the decline in numbers of these species by carrying out research in Africa, working in collaboration with organisations across Europe and by analysing data in the UK to see whether there are any trends emerging that could explain why the declines are happening. View the Calendar at http://www.bto.org/appeals/a2b/

 
 

UN Launches the International Year of Biodiversity

International Year Of Biodiversity

The United Nations has declared the year 2010 as the 'International Year of Biodiversity (IYB)'.  IYB was officially launched at an opening ceremony held in Berlin on 11 January, and has been conceived as a celebration of the world's biodiversity and the many contributions it makes to human well-being. In the UK, a unique partnership of over 200 organisations has been formed to promote IYB and a better understanding of biodiversity. A very wide range of organisations is taking part, including universities, museums, non-governmental groups, theatre companies and government agencies. The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership is also delighted to be a member of this initiative.

Many different events are being planned around Norfolk throughout the year to commemorate the International Year of Biodiversity; to find out more, please go to the 'Events' section of this website. To learn more about IYB and the UK partnership, please click here.

 
 

Annual Forum Celebrates a Decade of BAP Implementation

Jay Griffiths, author of Wild: An Elemental Journey
Jay Griffiths, author of Wild:
An Elemental Journey
(Photo Credit: M. Sutton-Croft)
Celebration cake
(Photo Credit: M. Sutton-Croft)

On 1 October 2009, over 100 delegates gathered at the Abbey Conference Centre in Norwich to attend the Partnership's Annual Biodiversity Forum and to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan. Jay Griffiths, the acclaimed nature writer and author of Wild: An Elemental Journey, gave the keynote address. She spoke movingly about the importance of place and the 'tender wildness' that underlies local conservation efforts. The conference also heard from many of the chairs of the Biodiversity Partnership's Topic Groups, who provided short summaries of the achievements and successes of the BAP over the last decade. A specially-prepared 'anniversary cake' provided the final touch to the occasion.

The day served as a reminder of the remarkable array of conservation activities that have been supported - both directly and indirectly - by the BAP process; the day also highlighted the vibrancy and strength of the Biodiversity Partnership itself. Although the challenges ahead remain daunting, the Partnership is uniquely placed to pursue its mission of 'conserving, enhancing and restoring Norfolk's biodiversity'.

To read the full version of Jay Griffiths' keynote speech, please click here.

 
 

Take part in the Countryside Wildlife Survey!

Grey Partridge
(Photo Credit: David North)

Have you seen any of these species in Norfolk? Brown hare, grey partridge, barn owl, harvest mouse. Norfolk Wildlife Trust is asking for your help in recording these four species. Join in the survey, learn more about Norfolk's wildlife and help us secure a future for these animals. To find out more, please click here

 
 

New report highlights the impacts of invasive plants in Norfolk

Floating Pennywort
(Photo Credit: Broads Authority)

Invasive non-native plants are widespread and are significantly impacting on biodiversity in Norfolk. This is the message which is outlined in a new report, released by the Non-native Species Initiative in its draft form on Wednesday 30 September 2009.

The report focuses on six invasive plant species that have been identified as particularly high priorities by stakeholders: giant hogweed; Japanese knotweed; floating pennywort; Himalayan balsam; Australian swamp stonecrop; and parrot's feather. More information about these species can be found on the Initiative's webpage.

Along with the status report, the Initiative has released a detailed action plan, outlining the measures that need to be taken over the next four years to reduce the impact and spread of these invasive species.

Individuals and organisations are invited to comment on the draft report and action plan. The deadline for responses is 31st October 2009. Please send any responses to the Initiative's Co-ordinator (e-mail: michael.sutton-croft@norfolk.gov.uk)

To view the draft report, please click here.

 
 

Awards for Norfolk community conservation projects

Awards for Norfolk community conservation projects
(Photo Credit: Charles Greenhough)

Four Norfolk conservation projects were presented with the NBP's 'Community Biodiversity Awards' on 24 September 2009, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to wildlife in the county and their engagement with local communities.

  • Pigney's Wood, a 23.5 ha site in North Norfolk, won the Site Award for the excellent conservation and management work carried out by the North Norfolk Community Woodland Trust;
  • Forest Schools-East won the Education Award, in recognition of its pioneering work to support the creation of Forest Schools in the East of England;
  • The Friends of the Rosary Cemetery won the Local Group Award, for their sensitive and innovative approach to the conservation and management of the Rosary Cemetery in Norwich;
  • Liz Howarth won the Individual Award for her enthusiastic and inspiring contributions to the BTCV's Green Gym and Action Team.

The awards were presented by Prof Tom Williamson at a special ceremony held at the Assembly House in Norwich. Paul Holley, Chair of the NBP's Communities and Nature Topic Group, said: 'In these difficult times, it's great to know that there are so many individuals and groups working hard not only to improve Norfolk's biodiversity, but also to encourage their local communities to get involved.'

In addition, five individuals/projects were 'Highly Commended' for their conservation efforts, as follows:

  • Kevin West, for the creation of extensive native woodlands and orchards at 'Westies Wood' (Site Category);
  • Erpingham VC Primary School, for the creation of an outstanding pond and woodland area on the school grounds (Education Category);
  • The Friends of Open Green Spaces (FrOGS), for their conservation work at Spout Hills - a valuable wildlife site on the fringe of Holt. (Local Group Category);
  • The BTCV Green Gym (Norwich), for its conservation activities at multiple sites around Norwich and its active involvement of volunteers from the community (Local Group Category);
  • Charles Cornish, for his role in the creation of a large community woodland in North Walsham - one of the first to be planted in the county (Individual Category).

For more information about all the award winners, please click here.

 

Counting for Cuckoos!

Spotted flycatcher
Spotted flycatcher
(Photo Credit: John Harding/BTO)

Pack your picnic and binoculars and get counting for the BTO's Summer Bird Count in aid of the 'Out of Africa' Appeal. You can help us investigate falling numbers of migratory birds like the cuckoo and spotted flycatcher by taking part. Choose a date between 28th August and 14th September, a time and location to suit yourself (your garden, on holiday or day trip), then approach friends and family for sponsorship.

The more bird species you see, the more money you will be raising to support our research into summer migrants. You may even catch a glimpse of some of them as they depart on their epic journeys. Return your form and sponsorship by 9th October to be entered into the Prize Draw for a pair of Swarovski EL 8 x 32 binoculars (RRP £1250). For more information about the Summer Bird Count and to download forms, visit www.bto.org/appeals/birdcount.htm or call Rachel Irvine on 01842 750050.

 
 

Norfolk Bat Survey Launched

Norfolk Bat Survey Launched

Over the next two years, volunteers will be carrying out a road-based bat detector survey of Norfolk. The Norfolk Bats and Roadside Mammals Survey is being undertaken to produce up-to-date distribution data for bats in the county.

The survey is being co-ordinated by Catherine Greenhough from the Norwich Bat Group under the auspices of the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS). Funding for the project has been kindly provided by NBIS and Natural England. Data from this survey will, - amongst other uses - help to identify important bat areas and target conservation measures.

For more information about this survey, please click here.

 

'Aliens' land at The Forum in Norwich

'Conservation Counts - Grains of Truth' display
(Photo credit: Scott Perkin)

On 22 May 2009, a 'spaceship' bearing 'aliens' was sighted at The Forum in Norwich.

The spaceship was part of a special display organised by the Partnership's Non-native Species Initiative to mark the International Day of Biodiversity. The global theme this year was invasive non-native species, and the spaceship was used to draw attention to the threats and impacts posed by alien species. The display included live examples of some of the most damaging invasive alien species in the county, including signal crayfish, floating pennywort, Japanese knotweed and Australian swamp stonecrop. Set against the stunning glass and steel backdrop of The Forum, the display received a large amount of public interest and a steady stream of curious visitors. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the British Wild Flower Plants, which promotes the use of native garden plants.

In another move to commemorate the International Day of Biodiversity, the Partnership also supported the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's 'Conservation Counts - Grains of Truth' display. This used grains of

barley to demonstrate county and global biodiversity statistics in a very graphic, powerful and emotional way.

Both exhibits were organised under the auspices of CUE-East's 'Sustainable Living Festival'.

(Posted on 29 May 2009)

'Aliens' land at the Forum in Norwich The Forum in Norwich
 

Natural Neighbours - Norfolk's First Community Biodiversity Conference

Natural Neighbours - Norfolk's First Community Biodiversity Conference
(Photo credit: Philip Haynes)

Norfolk's local communities are making a real difference for biodiversity - that was the clear message from 'Natural Neighbours', Norfolk's first community biodiversity conference, held in Norwich on 7 March 2009.

Over 90 delegates - mainly from community groups - heard some inspiring examples of ambitious environmental projects that bring local people together. These can be hard work, but they can also create significant benefits for biodiversity, improve accessible green spaces and be lots of fun. Delegates heard about innovative community projects being implemented by the Bergh Apton Conservation Trust, Friends of the Rosary, North Norfolk Community Woodland Trust, Norwich Environmental Weekenders (NEWS) and the Kenninghall Lands Trust.

The day also included a series of workshops, covering topics such as funding, biodiversity surveys, volunteers, publicity and pond management. In addition, speakers from the Big Lottery Fund and the Veolia Environmental Trust described a wide variety of funding opportunities. Lord Peter Melchett of the Soil Association gave a colourful, entertaining and forceful presentation on the importance of organic growing to biodiversity.

The conference was organised by Marya Parker of BTCV on behalf of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and its Communities and Nature BAP Topic Group. The speakers and workshop leaders generously volunteered their time and the event was free to participants thanks to funding from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council, Norwich City Council, The Paul Bassham Charitable Trust, The Courtyard Farm Trust and Brigadier and Mrs Phelps Charitable Settlement.

 

A New Look for the Biodiversity Partnership

Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership

Over the last year, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership has been running a logo design competition with the Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA).

The aim was to develop a new and more modern looking logo for the Partnership, which would provide a clear, local identity.

The results are now in, and the winning design was recently adopted by the Partnership's Steering Group. Members felt that the new design was eye-catching and innovative, and were particularly impressed by the creative way in which different examples of flora and fauna had been incorporated into the lettering.

The new logo was the joint creation of students Ben Hutchinson and Lindsey Green, who are both studying for their BA (Hons) degree in Graphic Design at NUCA. Speaking about the competition, they said: 'Working on this project together was a positive experience for both of us. It allowed us to think creatively and to collaborate as a team. This was a useful and valuable exercise, as designers in industry often work together in teams. We hope we have produced a logo which is attractive and succeeds in conveying a sense of the Partnership's work.'

The new logo will now be used in all the Partnership's future stationery, publications and display materials.

 

Norfolk BAP Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary

The Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan

It is now ten years since the launch of the Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan in 1999. As the Biodiversity Partnership looks back over the achievements and progress of the last decade, there is much to celebrate. Over 60 Species and Habitat Action Plans have now been prepared and brought into implementation. Biodiversity has been increasingly 'mainstreamed' into county and district-level strategies, policies and plans.

A Biodiversity Project Fund has been in operation for over five years, and now provides crucial support for small but high priority activities identified in the different action plans. But most importantly of all, many species and habitats are showing clear signs of recovery.

Despite these encouraging trends, Norfolk's biodiversity continues to face a broad array of serious threats, including large-scale development, invasive alien species and climate change. The need for a clear and up-to-date Biodiversity Action Plan has never been more important, and the Partnership will continue to build on the experience and strength of its members to ensure that the BAP remains an effective catalyst for conservation action.

 

Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Welcomes Two New Members

Anglian Water
University of East Anglia

Both Anglian Water and the University of East Anglia have recently become formal members of the Biodiversity Partnership, bringing total membership to 21.

The two organisations bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience to the Partnership. Anglian Water, for example, has developed a company BAP, played a key role in the Water for Wildlife programme and been actively involved in special projects such as the re-introduction of the pool frog; it is the first corporate member of the Partnership. UEA is actively involved in cutting-edge research on biodiversity, ecology, landscape history and climate change, eg, through its School of Environmental Sciences, the School of History and the School of Biological Sciences.

 

Stakeholders' Forum Identifies Dangers Posed by Invasive Non-native Species

norfolk non-native species initiative

On 18 February 2009, over 70 local stakeholders came together with national and regional experts in Norwich to discuss the management of invasive non-native species in Norfolk. The event was organised by the Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative and attended by delegates from a wide variety of groups and organisations (including Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust), demonstrating the level of concern amongst stakeholders in the county. Over the course of the day, delegates heard about action being taken to address the issue at national level, as well as more local activities 'on the ground'.

Topics covered included the recently published GB Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy, advances in the biological control of invasive non-native plants, the threats posed by non-native fish and the ambitious project to eradicate floating pennywort from the River Waveney.

A summary of the day and the PowerPoint presentations will be made available shortly on the Non-native Species page.

Biodiversity Forum highlights the benefits of outdoor learning   Biodiversity Forum highlights the benefits of outdoor learning
The 'Conservation Counts' exhibit
at the Biodiversity Forum.
(Photo credit: David North)
 

Biodiversity Forum highlights the benefits of outdoor learning

Outdoor learning can enhance children's educational attainment, improve emotional development, increase confidence and strengthen social skills. This was the message that participants heard at this year's Annual Biodiversity Forum on 2 October 2008.

Some 120 delegates took part in the Forum, which was organised around the theme of 'biodiversity and outdoor education'. Amongst other topics, participants heard about national initiatives such as the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto; Froglife's innovative activities with young offenders; the County Council's Environmental and Outdoor Learning Programme; and the inspiring approaches to outdoor learning being used by the Forest School at Whitlingham in Norwich. The day also featured a special exhibit called 'Conservation Counts'. This was put together by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and sought to communicate information about the county's biodiversity statistics by using grains of barley. In total, the Trust estimated that over 3,000,000 grains were used in the display!

To learn more about recent research documenting the benefits of outdoor education, please click here to download a copy of Every Experience Matters. To download a copy of the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, please click here.

 

Norfolk Launches Non-native Species Initiative

Himalayan balsam
(Photo credit: Mary Pipes)

In response to the growing scale of the problems caused by invasive alien species in Norfolk, the Biodiversity Partnership has recently launched a major new Non-Native Species Initiative. The aim of the Initiative is to promote the prevention, control and eradication of invasive alien species throughout the county, with an initial focus on non-native aquatic plants.

Amongst other activities, the Initiative will:

  • Prepare an overview report on the status and impacts of non-native aquatic species in Norfolk;
  • Develop a non-native aquatic species action plan for Norfolk for the next three to five years;
  • Implement a number of demonstration control and eradication projects;
  • Develop a web-page on non-native species for inclusion on the Norfolk biodiversity website;
  • Organise two meetings of the Norfolk Non-native Species Stakeholders' Forum over the next year.

A full-time Co-ordinator (Michael Sutton-Croft) has been appointed to oversee the Initiative, and can be contacted at: michael.sutton-croft@norfolk.gov.uk. The Initiative has been generously supported by the Broads Authority, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Norfolk County Council and the Water Management Alliance.

 

Local conservation groups receive awards for outstanding achievements

Local conservation groups award winners
(Photo credit: Charles Greenhough)

Eight local groups received awards from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership at a special ceremony held on 24 September 2008 at the Assembly House in Norwich. The 'Community Biodiversity Awards' are given out each year to recognise local community groups that are making an outstanding contribution to wildlife in the county. The awards this year were presented by Steve Scott, Regional Director of the Forestry Commission, and were given to:

  • The Acle Lands Trust, which received the Site Award for its woodland conservation and management work at Damgate and Roman Woods;
  • The East of England Apples and Orchards Project (EEAOP), which received the Education Award in recognition of its pioneering efforts to raise awareness of the region's rich - but highly threatened - traditional fruit and orchard heritage;
  • The Southrepps Common Trust, which received the Local Group Award for its outstanding efforts to conserve and manage a river valley site of national and European importance; and
  • Lucy Whittle, who received the Individual Award for her dedication to the conservation and enhancement of the biodiversity of Kenninghall.

Four Honourable Mentions were also awarded, to the following:

  • Dennis, Sally and Rachel Long, in recognition of the creation of Long's Wood - the largest community woodland in Norfolk (Site Category);
  • Dersingham Primary School, for the development of its outstanding wildlife area (Education Category);
  • The Bergh Apton Conservation Trust, in recognition of its valuable conservation work at Valley Marsh and Church Plantation in South Norfolk (Local Group Category);
  • Bill Flynn, for his efforts to manage and restore threatened habitats on Bawdeswell Heath (Individual Category).

More information about the award winners can be downloaded by clicking here.

 

Norfolk's conservation importance highlighted by new biodiversity audit

Norfolk's conservation importance has been re-confirmed in a landmark report just released by the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS). The report - a comprehensive audit of the BAP species data held by NBIS - provides an important new assessment of the occurrence of BAP species in the county. It also identifies key gaps in our knowledge and suggests research and survey priorities for the future.

Amongst other findings, the report reveals that some 419 BAP species are believed to occur in Norfolk, representing 36 per cent of the species on the UK priority list. Eighty-eight per cent of the bird species on the national BAP list have been recorded in Norfolk, highlighting the importance of the county for both resident and migrant species. In addition, 59 per cent of the moth species found on the national priority list have been recorded in Norfolk, underscoring the county's importance for invertebrates as well.

However, not all the report makes for positive reading. The audit suggests that at least 72 BAP species are now considered extinct in the county (and in some cases, nationally). This number consists primarily of beetle species (24) and vascular plants (30).

The report is currently in draft form, and NBIS would welcome comments and suggestions from the conservation community. To download a copy of the report, please click here.

 

Help record your garden's threatened wildlife

Hedgehog covered in duckweed
(Photo credit: David Gittens)

Hedgehogs, song thrushes, house sparrows, slow worms and red-tailed bumblebees are all species which are in decline nationally. Numbers of house sparrows, for example, have fallen by more than 50% in recent decades. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Norfolk Biological Records Centre, Buglife and Bumblebee Conservation Trust, is asking people to record sightings of any of these threatened wildlife species in their garden by completing an online survey at www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/ naturalconnections or calling 01603-598333 for a free survey card.

The data obtained from the survey will help us to develop a better understanding of the distribution of these species and will also enable us to document the conservation value of gardens in Norfolk. Brendan Joyce, the Director of Norfolk Wildlife Trust has noted: 'The total area of gardens in Norfolk is probably greater than that of all the Trust's nature reserves combined. If managed sensitively, gardens have a key role to play in helping to reverse the decline of many species.'

 
 

King's Lynn identified as a regional hotspot for moss diversity

Bryum dichotomum, Ceratodon purpureus and Syntrichia ruraliformis
An assemblage of three different species
(Bryum dichotomum,
Ceratodon purpureus and
Syntrichia ruraliformis)
growing in a disused
factory site.
(Photo credit: Robin Stevenson)

Towns are often regarded as poor in wildlife, compared to the wider countryside. However, a recent study of the mosses and liverworts of King's Lynn has shown that this is by no means always the case.

Twenty-five one kilometre squares, covering all of the built up area of King's Lynn (plus some of the urban fringe), were recorded in detail. A total of 151 species were found, including several national and regional rarities; the average number of species per squares was 42.

Using statistical analysis, this was then compared to areas of similar size in other parts of East Anglia. King's Lynn and its mosses were clearly shown to be exceptionally species-rich. The reasons for this lie in the rich mix of habitats persisting in the town, including parks, old cemeteries and churchyards, and old orchard and woodland remnants.

A number of other commonly expressed opinions about urban moss floras were also tested. This showed that, in addition to being rich rather than impoverished, the town's flora is not biased towards pollution-tolerant or warmth-loving species (towns generally have a warmer micro-climate than the surrounding countryside). The local geology was also an important factor, resulting in the town having a higher proportion of species tolerant of acidic conditions than would be usual for East Anglia.

(Further details are available in the full published paper: Stevenson, C.R. and Hill, M.O. 2008. Urban myths exploded: results of a bryological survey of King's Lynn (Norfolk, UK). Journal of Bryology 30: 12 - 22.)

 

Norfolk Moth Night reveals a hidden world

Moth Nights 2008
Moth Night 2008
(Photo credit: Scott Perkin)

Over 20 people gathered in an orchard at Ashill in Breckland on the evening of 7 June to take part in National Moth Night. Using a total of four light traps, the group collected, identified and released moths from 08:30 until midnight. The data - along with records gathered by other groups from across the country - will be sent to Butterfly Conservation for compilation and analysis. The records will be compared with the results of previous years to assess national trends, and will also be used to determine the importance of traditional orchards (a new BAP habitat) in supporting moths.

Chris Jones from the County Council's Environment Group said: 'Moths are often over-looked and misunderstood. They form a critical part of the food chain, and are particularly important for bats and birds; they also play an important role in pollination. However, moths are also beautiful and fascinating creatures in their own right.'

Although the weather prior to the event had been very wet and insect numbers were not as high as expected, 30 different moth species were recorded. These included two BAP species, the ghost moth (Hepialus humuli) and the grey dagger (Acronicta psi).

The event was organised by the Norfolk Moth Group, Norfolk County Council, and the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, with the kind collaboration of the landowner, Mr Ian Read.

 

Norfolk naturalists celebrate the life and work of Robert Marsham

Stratton Strawless Village Sign
The village sign at Stratton Strawless,
featuring the famous Marsham cedar, planted in 1747.
(Photo credit: Scott Perkin)

Naturalists from Norfolk and beyond gathered at the small village of Stratton Strawless on 7 June 2008 to take part in an all-day conference to celebrate the life and work of Robert Marsham.

Marsham was born three hundred years ago (1708) and is widely regarded as the 'father of British phenology' - the study of the timing of natural events. He developed a passion for recording details about the natural history of his family estate, including the first flowering of snow drops and wood anemones, the first leafing of oak trees, the arrival of swallows, and the first sightings of butterflies. These records were eventually developed into Marsham's famous '27 indications of spring', and were reported to the Royal Society in 1789.

Marsham's work was carried on by successive generations of the family until the late 1950s. Today, the spirit of his work has been revived by the UK Phenology Network, a national partnership between The Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The conference on 7 June was organised by the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society, and chaired by Dr Gerry Barnes, the Chair of the Biodiversity Partnership. Speakers included scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Woodland Trust, the University of East Anglia, and the British Trust for Ornithology. Gerry Barnes said: 'Perhaps the most startling aspect of Marsham's work is the way in which it continues to be relevant today, not least in relation to issues such as climate change.'

For more information about Robert Marsham, please visit: www.robertmarsham.co.uk. For more information about phenology and ways of participating in the growing UK network of recorders, visit: www.naturescalendar.org.uk

 

Defra launches new strategy to tackle non-native species

Signal Crayfish
Signal Crayfish
(Photo credit: Scott Perkin)

On 28 May 2008, Defra launched a new strategy to reduce the threats posed by invasive non-native species. Alien species such as floating pennywort, signal crayfish and American mink can have a devastating impact on native wildlife. At a global level, invasive non-native species are now recognised as one of the most important factors driving biodiversity decline, second only to habitat loss. They are also estimated to cost the world's economies hundreds of billions of pounds.

The new Defra strategy identifies a number of key requirements for tackling non-native species, including the need to:

  • Raise awareness of the risks posed by invasive non-native species and the steps that can be taken to prevent their introduction;
  • Develop a shared, web-based directory, showing the distribution and spread of non-native invasive species;
  • Develop methods for the early identification of potential problem species;
  • Establish a clear framework for rapid action when invasive non-native species are detected for the first time in Britain.

To download a copy of the strategy document, please click here. For more information about invasive non-native species, please visit www.nonnativespecies.org

 

Help Record Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises off the Norfolk Coast!


Harbour porpoise (Photo credit: G Cresswell)

We often associate dolphins, whales and porpoises with exotic locations, but many species can be seen right here along the Norfolk coast. To help improve our understanding of the distribution of these species, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership has teamed up with a number of other organisations to develop an identification leaflet and recording card. If you are lucky enough to see a dolphin, whale or porpoise along the coast, please help us to conserve these special creatures by completing and posting a survey card.

If you would like to download a copy of the identification leaflet and recording card, please click here. Copies of the leaflet can also be obtained free-of-charge from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

 

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) joins the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

British Trust for Ornithology

In February 2008, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership was delighted to welcome the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) as its 19th member. Established in 1933, BTO is an independent, scientific research trust, investigating the populations, movements and ecology of wild birds in the British Isles. BTO's speciality is the design and implementation of volunteer wild bird surveys. To learn more about the BTO and ways of becoming involved in its survey work, please click here.

 
 

WARNING - Crayfish Plague on the River Waveney

There has been an outbreak of crayfish plague on the River Waveney. This disease is a great threat to our rare native crayfish if it gets into other river systems. The co-operation of all river users is sought to help prevent the spread of crayfish plague to other river systems and lakes.

Plague spores can be carried in water or on damp equipment. If you are planning to use your canoe or other equipment in a river system other than the Waveney within the next six weeks, please follow these procedures:

  • Clean off all mud and vegetation and empty out any standing water

Then either

  • Allow equipment to dry thoroughly including all nooks and crannies. This includes sponges etc used for washing

Or

  • Apply or immerse in disinfectant. The best ones to use are iodophores (sold as udder wash) or Virkon S, available through agricultural suppliers. If these are not available, bleach or anti-fungicidal products can be used.

Click here to see the full press release from the Environment Agency and to read more detailed guidelines on disinfection.

More information can also be obtained by ringing the Environment Agency on 08708 506506.

 

Norfolk Biodiversity Forum Explores the Linkages between Health and Nature

Contact with nature can lead to significant mental and physical health benefits, and could help the NHS make large savings when treating depression, stress-related diseases and obesity. This is the message that participants at the Norfolk Biodiversity Forum on 11 October 2007 heard from a range of speakers, including Prof Jules Pretty OBE, the Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex.

A growing body of empirical evidence is now available, documenting the health and other benefits that can result from exposure to nature through 'green exercise', such as walks in the out-of-doors. Research by the University of Essex, for example, has shown that green exercise can lower stress levels, boost self-esteem, lower blood pressure and help to tackle obesity. Green exercise can also help people to develop new skills and form social connections.

To explore the linkages between health and nature in greater depth, the Norfolk Biodiversity Forum brought together nearly 100 of the county's conservationists and public health experts. In addition to Prof Jules Pretty, other speakers at the Forum included: Marya Parker, who talked about the BTCV's Green Gym Project; Ian Plowman, who spoke about the Naturally Active Network; and Carrie Kerry, who gave a presentation about the Central Norfolk Health Walks Project.

For more information about the research and projects discussed at the Norfolk Biodiversity Forum, please visit the following links:

http://www.essex.ac.uk/bs/staff/pretty/green_ex.shtm
http://www.heron.nhs.uk/organisationdetails.asp?id=22113&search_id=292902&search_type=b
http://www.naturallyactive.org/
http://www.norwichfringeproject.co.uk/healthwalks.html

For more general information about the contributions that nature can make to physical and mental well-being, please see the following:

http://www.mind.org.uk/mindweek
http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/health/index.asp

 

Annual Update for 2006/07 now available

The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership's Annual Update for 2006/07 has now been published. It provides a summary of the Partnership's achievements over the last year, as well as information on:

  • The latest developments with the ecological network mapping project
  • The work of the eight Topic Groups
  • Priorities for 2007-08

To find out more about the Partnership's latest activities, please download the Annual Update by clicking here.

 

Rare invertebrates found on Norfolk's coastal cliffs


The cliff comber beetle
(Nebria livida)
Photo credit: Andrew Whitehouse

Searching for invertebrates at Overstrand
Photo credit: Scott Perkin

Recent surveys of the soft cliffs along the coast of Norfolk have recorded hundreds of invertebrate species, including the spectacular cliff comber beetle (Nebria livida), a nocturnal predator only found in the UK on a handful of sites, and the rare burrowing rove beetle (Bledius filipes), which is found only in Norfolk.

In 2006, the conservation charity Buglife organised an invertebrate survey of Norfolk's soft cliffs, with funding support from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, the Environment Agency and the Courtyard Farm Trust. The survey results confirm the biodiversity importance of these special areas and highlight the need for sensitive management approaches.

Although they have often gone unrecognised, coastal soft cliffs are among the most wildlife-rich habitats in the UK.

However, this biodiversity is also under threat from a range of factors, including coastal defences, development, and the spread of intensive agriculture along cliff tops.

On 19 July 2007, Buglife and the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership held a workshop in Southrepps, North Norfolk, to discuss the ecology of soft cliffs and to explore ways of protecting and enhancing their wildlife value. The meeting discussed the findings of the recent surveys in Norfolk, and also saw the regional launch of the new Buglife report, Managing Coastal Soft Cliffs for Invertebrates. The meeting concluded with a visit to the soft cliffs at Overstrand and a search for invertebrates along the coast.

For more information about Buglife and the management of soft cliffs, please visit the Buglife website at: www.buglife.org.uk.
To download a copy of the Norfolk invertebrate survey report, please click here.

 

Norfolk's community conservation projects receive awards


Steve Cook receiving his
Community Biodiversity Award from the Lord Mayor
(Photo credit: Keith Whitmore)

Four local conservation projects received awards at the Springwatch Festival on 16 June 2007 for their outstanding contributions to wildlife in the county and their engagement with local communities.

The "Community Biodiversity Awards" are presented each year by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership to the best community wildlife projects in the county. They recognise the efforts of local people in achieving improvements for the wildlife of Norfolk and reward excellence in this area.

The awards were presented by the Lord Mayor of Norwich (Councillor Roy Blower) and Gary Standley from the BBC. The winners were as follows:

  • South Norfolk Council Countryside Team and Volunteers won the Site Award for working in partnership to create a valuable new wetland area at Frenze Beck.
  • Sutton First School received the Education Award for creating an outstanding wildlife garden within the school grounds.
  • Compo won the Group Award for its innovative and successful community recycling and composting scheme.
  • Steve Cook, who has been running Norwich Environmental Weekenders for over 13 years, received the Individual Award.

Paul Holley, Chair of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership's Communities and Nature Topic Group, said: "The Community Biodiversity Awards offer a great opportunity to showcase the work being done by volunteers to care for Norfolk's natural heritage. This year, we have had more nominations than ever, and picking winners from such a range of excellent projects proved very difficult, although any organisations or individuals who did not receive an award this year will be eligible to enter next year's competition. I hope that the Community Biodiversity Awards help prove that local groups and individuals really can make a difference, and will encourage even more people to become involved in caring for their wildlife and natural environment."

Four Honourable Mentions were also awarded, to the following:

  • Ian and Rosemary McIntosh, in recognition of the improvements that have been made to Sandwade Mere County Wildlife Site (Site Category).
  • Old Buckenham Primary School, for the development of its wildlife area and pond (Education Category).
  • The River Glaven Conservation Group, in recognition of its activities to conserve and restore wildlife habitats along the river corridor (Local Group Category).
  • Dick Hamond, for his valuable contributions to the advancement of our understanding of the marine fauna of the north Norfolk coast (Individual Category).

For more information about the award winners and their projects, please click here.

 

New list of UK BAP species and habitats released

The much-anticipated report of the Species and Habitats Review can now be downloaded from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) website. The review represents the results of over three years of work and the input of over 500 experts from across the UK.

The aim of the Species and Habitat Review was to ensure that the UK Biodiversity Action Plan remains focussed on the correct priorities for action. The original list of UK BAP species and habitats was developed over ten years ago and was in need of updating in order to take account of new information, evolving priorities and emerging drivers such as devolution. The new list of priority species and habitats resulting from the review will now be put to Ministers for formal adoption.

Amongst other measures, the report recommends:

  • The addition of eight new terrestrial habitats, including traditional orchards, open mosaic habitats on previously developed land, rivers (incorporating the existing chalk rivers habitat), ponds, and oligotrophic and dystrophic lakes;
  • The addition of eight new marine habitats, including intertidal boulder communities and estuarine rocky habitats;
  • The addition of 695 new species, including 32 birds (amongst them - the house sparrow, common starling and lesser-spotted woodpecker), 230 lower plants and fungi, 235 invertebrates and 137 vascular plants. The report has also recommended the removal of 123 species from the previous list, bringing the total number of UK BAP priority species to 1,149.

The report has important implications for the work and strategic direction of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, and will be discussed in detail at future meetings of the BAP Steering Group.

 

BBC Breathing Places Campaign launched to aid wildlife in Norwich

Springwatch

Norwich City Council, local wildlife groups and the BBC will co-host the launch of a ground breaking initiative - BBC Breathing Places Cities - at one of fifteen Springwatch Festivals across the UK. Norwich's Springwatch Festival takes place at Chapelfield Garden on Saturday 16th June, from 10.30am until 4.30pm.

With the strapline of "Do One Thing", BBC Breathing Places aims to breathe new life into urban wildlife in cities across the UK. Tim Bishop, Head of Local and Regional Programmes in the East, said:

"We are asking everyone who comes to the Springwatch Festival to " Do One Thing " for wildlife in Norwich. It could be something as simple as putting up a nest box in their back garden or as ambitious as helping to create a wildlife garden on a local housing estate or in hospital grounds. The more people who take simple actions for wildlife in Norwich the bigger difference we can make together."

"By working with Norwich City Council, and local wildlife and conservation groups like Natural England, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), we hope that BBC Breathing Places will inspire thousands of people to take simple actions to help to help transform the city for wildlife and turn Norwich into a Breathing Place."

Norwich City Council and local wildlife organisations - in partnership with BBC Breathing Places - have set targets for their year of wild action. Ideas are eclectic: from a wildlife roundabout, butterfly gardens and pond dipping; to a green safari, orchard planting and a new bog garden. Each initiative is specific to the individual city taking part and designed to inspire local residents to join BBC Breathing Places.

Aside from launching the new initiative, Norwich's Springwatch Festival will also offer the perfect family day out. From close up encounters with wildlife, to trying a range of activities, joining a Springwatch Garden Party, or learning how to become a Springwatch Tracker, there is something for everyone! Under five's will be able to get active and take part in Springwatch Spotter activities. In addition, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership will be holding a short ceremony at the bandstand at 11:30am, at which the four winners of the 2006 Community Biodiversity Awards will be announced.

The BBC Breathing Places cities are: Derry - Londonderry - Swansea - Glasgow - Hull - Birmingham - Newham (for London) - Southampton - Manchester - Norwich - Peterborough - Derby - Newcastle - Gateshead - Brighton - Bristol - Plymouth.

For information about the Norwich Event, call Emma Bacon on 01603 212381.

For more information about BBC Breathing Places, and details of the attractions that will feature at all fifteen Springwatch Festivals across the UK, email: nina.bell@bbc.co.uk or call 0117 9746640.

 

Defra publishes biodiversity guidance for public authorities

On 22 May 2007, Defra released its much-anticipated guidance on the implementation of the new biodiversity duty contained in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006). The duty states that: "Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity." Over 900 public authorities are affected by the new duty, including: district councils; county councils; fire, police and health bodies; museums; and transport authorities.

Two sets of guidance are available:

1) specific guidance aimed at addressing the requirements of local authorities; and

2) more general guidance aimed at all public authorities. Both sets of guidance contain a wealth of case studies and practical suggestions, and can be downloaded from the Defra website at: www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/biodiversity/

 

Biodiversity Partnership Gains Two New Members

nnns
wma

The Biodiversity Partnership recently welcomed two new members to its Steering Group: the Water Management Alliance (formerly the King's Lynn Consortium of Internal Drainage Boards) and the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society.

Both organisations add significant new strengths to the Partnership. The Water Management Alliance is the largest organisation of its kind in the UK and a governing authority for flood protection throughout the county. The Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society was founded in 1869 and is the county's oldest natural history organisation; it is actively involved in research, biological recording and education.

More information about both organisations can be found on their respective websites, www.klcidb.co.uk and www.nnns.org.uk. The total membership of the Steering Group now stands at 18 organisations, representing a very wide array of interests and biodiversity expertise.

 

Heaths Forum Visits the Brecks


Members of the
Norfolk Heaths Forum
at Brandon Park
Photo credit - Scott Perkin

What is the role of rabbits in maintaining the biodiversity of the Brecks? Is nitrogen deposition leading to a shift in vegetation composition? Should heathland managers aim to reduce nutrients by turf stripping?

These were just a few of the issues considered by over 35 "heathland practitioners" from Norfolk and Suffolk, who gathered in the Brecks on 25 April 2007 under the umbrella of the Biodiversity Partnership's Heaths Forum.

Organised by the Forestry Commission with the financial support of the Partnership, the day featured a diverse blend of theory and practice. The morning began with in-depth description of the ecology of the Brecks by Dr Paul Dolman (UEA), who summarised the results of recent research and their implications for management. This was followed by an introduction to the Tomorrow's Heathland Heritage (THH) project by Neil Jarvis (Forestry Commission). With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a range of other partners, the THH project has restored some 300 ha of heathlands at seven sites in the Brecks. The day concluded with field visits to restoration sites at Cranwich Camp and Brandon Country Park, where lively discussions about the most effective approaches to heathland management were held.

 
 

Building Biodiversity and Open Space into Local Development Frameworks

How can biodiversity and open space be effectively incorporated into the new Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) that are currently being prepared by local authorities?

This was the central question addressed by a successful, one-day workshop organised by the Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships on 4 September 2006. The workshop was held at the offices of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford and attracted almost 50 participants, including planners and ecologists from nearly every local authority in Norfolk and Suffolk. Specialist presentations were made by Mike Oxford from the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) and Andrew McNab, a director of Scott Wilson Ltd and a representative of CABE Space. To view the presentations made by these two speakers, please click on the links below.

PowerPoint Presentations


(1) Mike Oxford ppt
(2) Mike Oxford ppt
Andrew McNab ppt

 

In Search of Norfolk's Fens

Fen in Aslacton
A fen in Aslacton Parish
Photo Credit: Steve Henson,
Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Norfolk is considered to have the best representation of fen types in England. However, fen vegetation has declined significantly in the last 100 years, and continues to do so, mainly as a result of neglect, desiccation (caused by drainage and abstraction), cultivation, and enrichment (often from polluted water run-off).

To help address some of these concerns, the Fens Assessment Project was set up in January 2005, with funding from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, Breckland District Council and the Environment Agency.

The project was carried out by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and sought to:

  • Create, for the first time, a map showing the distribution of non-SSSI fen sites outside the Broads area;
  • Assess the management and condition of individual sites, as a means of identifying those most urgently in need of conservation action.

As a first step, a comprehensive list of sites was compiled, using the County Wildlife Site database, aerial photographs and soil maps. These were then mapped, and a detailed database consisting of 25 information fields created. In total, the project identified and mapped 678 sites outside the Broads.

In addition to this mapping work, the condition and management status of approximately 200 sites were assessed in the field. Walk-over surveys at these sites revealed that almost two-thirds are currently either in decline or in unfavourable condition, with the fen vegetation destroyed in about 3% of cases.

Approximately 160 sites have now been identified as high priorities for future conservation work, of which 20 have been particularly earmarked for action. The next phase of the project will seek to work with land owners at these sites, in order to introduce the management changes necessary to improve site condition.

Please click here to download a copy of the project's summary report.

For more information, please contact:

Andrina Walmsley
Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Email: andrinaw@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

 

Draft final report of ecological network project now available

woods
Ecological networks benefit both people and wildlife

The report identifies core biodiversity areas in Norfolk as well as strategic opportunities for habitat enhancement and creation. It includes a set of maps for priority BAP habitats, as well as practical recommendations for establishing an ecological network for the county. To see the full report, please click here.

 
 

Norfolk's wildlife champions receive awards

Biodiversity Awards
(Photo Credit: Helen Ward)

Four Norfolk conservation projects have received Community Biodiversity Awards from the Biodiversity Partnership, for their outstanding contributions to wildlife in the county and their engagement with local communities:

  • The Hawk and Owl Trust wins the Site Award for restoring a neglected wetland at Sculthorpe Moor into a wildlife haven and creating a community nature reserve.
  • Costessey High School wins the Education Award for creating a wildlife garden which not only benefits biodiversity but also serves as a valuable educational resource.
  • The Friends of Fiddlewood wins the Group Award. This group of local residents has greatly enhanced a formerly neglected urban woodland on the Fiddlewood estate in Norwich.
  • Alwyn Jackson wins the Individual Award. Alwyn is a local volunteer who for many years has worked to conserve and improve the habitat and wildlife of Sparham Pools and a number of other sites.

Matthew Davies, Co-Chair of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership's Communities and Nature Topic Group, said: "All of these projects have made exceptional contributions, not only to wildlife but also to the local communities in their areas. I am delighted that they are receiving the recognition they deserve."

The awards were presented by Dr Gerry Barnes (Chair of the Biodiversity Partnership) and BBC Radio Norfolk's Gary Standley, at a short ceremony held at Norwich City Hall on 6 July 2006.

 

Warren Pit
Sand martin holes
at Grimston Warren pit

Digging the Benefits

Not normally natural bedfellows, the aggregates and environmental professions came together on 21 June 2006 at a successful conference jointly hosted by Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership. The meeting - entitled Not Just Newts! - looked at the positive contributions the minerals industry can make to wildlife conservation and enhancement in the county.

For a summary of the conference presentations, please click here.

 
 

Annual Update, 2005-2006

Annual Update
(click on image to download document)

The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership has continued to be very active over the last year. To find out more about the Partnership's latest projects and achievements, please download the Annual Update for 2005-2006 by clicking on the link to the left. The update includes:

  • A summary of recent biodiversity policy developments at the national level
  • An overview of the Partnership's work on wood-pasture and traditional orchards
  • News from the eight Topic Groups
  • Priorities for 2006-2007

and much more...

 
 

New Publication on Ecological Networks

making space
(click on image to download document)
(Please note that it will take up to
6 minutes to download
on an average computer)

At the beginning of 2005, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership launched a new initiative aimed at supporting the creation of an ecological network for the county. As a first step, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Biodiversity Partnership have now released a summary document entitled, Making Space for Wildlife and People: Creating an Ecological Network for Norfolk. The publication has been prepared in order to provide a concise overview of the rationale for ecological networks and should be of interest to all those involved in land-use planning, including local authorities, forward planners, development control officers, Local Development Framework officers and agri-environment advisors.

Amongst other topics, the document provides a summary of:

  •  the problems of habitat fragmentation and the need for a landscape scale approach;
  • the different components that comprise an ecological network;
  • the many conservation and socio-economic benefits associated with ecological networks; and
  • potential delivery mechanisms.

The publication also provides a helpful list of additional references and websites.

 
 

Annual Update, 2004-2005

annual update
(click on image to download document)

A tremendous amount has been achieved over the last year by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership. To find out more about the Partnership's latest activities, please download the Annual Update by clicking on the link to the left. The update includes information on:

  • Heathlands and nightjars
  • The work of the eight Topic Groups
  • Priorities for 2005-06

and much more...

 

 
 

Making Space for Wildlife: Creating an Ecological Network for Norfolk

Over the course of many centuries, Norfolk's wildlife habitats have become increasingly fragmented into small and isolated pockets. In recent years, it has become apparent that protecting wildlife simply by designating small nature reserves is inadequate. Wildlife finds it difficult to survive in such conditions and has continued to decline even in nature reserves. It is now recognised that the landscape as a whole needs to be managed with biodiversity in mind. It is important to begin reconnecting the fragmented habitats together to make them larger and to enable wildlife to move between them by creating an ecological network. This will become increasingly important with climate change, as habitats and species seek to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions.

habitat fragement
Norfolk's wildlife habitats have become increasingly fragmented,
as demonstrated by this photo of heathland at East Winch Common.

A project recently started between the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership will identify how we can create an ecological network in Norfolk. It will identify the key wildlife sites that need to be expanded as well as where we can connect isolated habitats.

The project will help focus efforts on expanding habitats to secure the future of our wildlife. However, an ecological network is not simply for wildlife. It is a key component of sustainability, offering multiple benefits for society. A network will help protect Norfolk's important environmental assets that are the foundation of much of the economic wealth of the county. An enlarged and connected series of habitats will also provide more space for habitat creation and enable local people to develop new economic activities based on the woods, heaths and wetlands that need to be created.

The first stage of the project will be to produce material explaining exactly what an ecological network is and what the benefits are to society. The second stage will be to undertake a mapping exercise of the county to identify the component parts of the network. This will build upon a recently completed habitat mapping exercise that covered the whole of eastern England. The third stage will be implementation. Many projects are currently being implemented by a range of organisations in Norfolk and are already contributing toward the establishment of an ecological network. This project will identify many other opportunities for developing the network.

Regular updates on the progress of the project will be posted on this website. For further information, please contact: Reg Land, Norfolk Wildlife Trust (Tel: 01603 625540) or Scott Perkin, Norfolk Biodiversity Co-ordinator (scott.perkin@norfolk.gov.uk).

 
 

The Upper Thurne Broads and Marshes: Development of a Long-Term Strategy for the Brograve Catchment

In recognition of their rich biological diversity, the Upper Thurne broads and marshes - including the well-known and popular Horsey Mere - have been designated as a nationally and internationally important wildlife site. Within such a large site, there are a number of issues that can impact on wildlife interests. One such issue is water quality. In 2001, an assessment of water quality in the catchment area showed that salinisation and acidification are acute problems which are likely to be having a significant negative impact on the area's biodiversity. One of the most visible signs of these problems is the presence of ochre in many water channels and ditches, and in the discharges from the Brograve pump into Horsey Mere. Ochre is a reddish-brown precipitate of iron, which is formed as a result of complex chemical and biological processes within the soil.

An aerial view of ochre in Horsey Mere. - Photograph by Mike Page [photo]
"An aerial view of ochre in Horsey Mere."
Photograph by Mike Page.

In order to address these concerns, efforts are now underway to develop a long-term strategy for the Brograve catchment. A special partnership has been established to guide the process, involving the King's Lynn Consortium of Internal Drainage Boards, numerous government agencies, several non-governmental groups and landowners. As one of its first steps, the partnership has commissioned a feasibility study to examine options for promoting the wise and sustainable use of land and water resources in the catchment, within the context of long-term planning for both agriculture and biodiversity conservation. The feasibility study has been funded by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, Defra, the Broads Authority and the National Trust; its recommendations are expected by mid-2005. For more information about this project, please contact:

Lou Mayer
Conservation Officer
King's Lynn Consortium of Internal Drainage Boards
Kettlewell House
Austin Fields Industrial Estate
King's Lynn PE30 1PH

Tel: 01553-669500

 

 
 

Annual Biodiversity Forum 2004

Photo from the Third Norfolk Biodiversity Forum [photo] The third Norfolk Biodiversity Forum was held at Barnham Broom on 13 October 2004, and brought together some 80 participants from a wide variety of government bodies, local authorities, non-governmental organisations and community groups. The Forum is now a regular annual event, and has become an increasingly important venue at which the members of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and the wider conservation community can review the progress that has been achieved to date, exchange ideas and information, and identify priorities for the future.

The Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan is now moving steadily from its initial focus on planning towards an emphasis on implementation on the ground. In recognition of this trend, the 2004 Forum sought to promote greater communication and co-ordination among the many different BAP-related activities that are underway, and to identify and address any obstacles to implementation that may be emerging.

At the heart of the Forum were presentations from the eight BAP Topic Groups. Each of the presentations was designed to give not only an overview of the group's work, but also, to highlight particular areas of interest (please see the table below for a summary).

The other highlight of the day was an "exchange fair", where participants had an opportunity to meet and hold discussions with the individual Topic Groups as well as a diverse range of other conservation organisations and agencies. This was the first Forum to experiment with such an approach, and the idea proved to be very popular. Among the comments received to date were the following:

"Best so far! It was really useful to find out what so many groups are doing, and then having a good opportunity to actually talk".

The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership is keen to build on the lessons and momentum that have resulted from the meeting, and planning for the 4th Biodiversity Forum (to be held in late September 2005) will begin soon.

 

Summary of Topic Group Presentations at the Norfolk Biodiversity Forum 2004

Topic Group

Presenter

Focus of the Presentation

Heathland Group

Helen Dixon

(English Nature)

The challenges and prospects for healthland re-creation in Norfolk, and the need for specialists.

Coastal Group

Peter Lambley

(English Nature)

Local Nature Reserve designation, and the use of the coast as an educational resource.

Woodland Group

Gerry Barnes

(Norfolk County Council)

Ways of funding woodland work, and of expanding the area under woodland.

Wetlands Group

Reg Land

(Norfolk Wildlife Trust)

Progress towards the achievement of the various species and habitat targets.

Large Areas for Wildlife Group

Reg Land

(Norfolk Wildlife Trust)

The development of large areas for wildlife.

Farmland Group

Paul Wilkinson

(Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership)

Biodiversity best practice guidance for farmers.

Communities and Nature Group

Karina Dingerkus

(Norwich City Council)

Encouraging public action for biodiversity

Water Bodies Group

Rob Dryden

 (Environment Agency)

Filling the remaining data gaps.

 

 
 

Biodiversity Partnership Update


(click on image
to download document)

The members of the Partnership have been very busy. Download the update to catch up on the latest areas of work, and plans for the future...The update includes information on:

  • traditional orchards 
  • the new national biodiversity reporting system 
  • the work of the Topic Groups
    and much more...!